MILWAUKEE -- Drivers in southeast Wisconsin may notice the price per gallon of gasoline has bounced up -- and may climb into the weekend.
FOX6 News spoke with Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com. He said gas prices went up already about seven cents per gallon on average. But some stations have seen more significant increases.
DeHaan says the increases come in the wake of an unexpected refinery shutdown at BP's Whiting, Indiana facility. It is responsible for producing a significant amount of gasoline supply for the region.
"This BP refinery is responsible for a significant part of the region’s gasoline supply. The BP refinery supplies thousands of stations that are not BP, and in some cases BP may even supply other oil companies like Shell or Citgo -- any brand of station. This is a huge refinery. The brand doesn’t really take a role. BP may be going up, but so will almost every other gas station. I don’t foresee any stations keeping their prices low," DeHaan said.
DeHaan expects prices to rise for the next one to two weeks before eventually stabilizing. DeHaan says it may be three to four weeks before we see prices return to where they were before the refinery shutdown.
"Gas prices across Milwaukee are currently averaging $2.66 with more and bigger increases set to come, thanks to a weekend unexpected refinery shutdown of the largest refinery in the Midwest -- that being BP's Whiting, Indiana facility which is responsible for producing a significant amount of gasoline supply for the region. We could see prices increasing over one to two weeks before eventually stabilizing and perhaps falling. A timeframe on the falling is tough to nail down. BP hasn't been clear on the extent of the damage and timetable for restoration. It may be several weeks if not a month. So while price increases could last maybe one to two weeks longer, I think prices could return to where they were Monday perhaps by three to four weeks from now, so it may be some time before we see prices return to where they were before this whole mess," DeHaan said.
The states hit hardest by this shutdown include Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
"This is not a country-wide problem. This is something that's going to hit hardest in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio -- perhaps parts of the Plains. It could reach further as refineries in the Gulf Coast begin to send gas to the Midwest attracted by the high price," DeHaan said.
DeHaan tells FOX6 News that despite the increase, prices per gallon of gasoline are far lower now than they were a year ago.
But you may want to think about filling up soon.
"I went and filled up (Tuesday night). I'd hate to send people out for a rush on the pump and make the situation worse. They may want to look at their driving and scale it back temporarily. If we can all conserve, or if gasoline demand goes down, it will alleviate the problem. Prices are still far lower than a year ago, though they could go up 50 cents a gallon or more over the next week. I'm expecting that once the refinery issue is behind us -- say mid-to-late September, that gas prices will once again plunge. We could be talking about $2/gallon gas or even sub $2/gallon gas by Christmas," DeHaan said.
BP has issued this statement:
"On Saturday, August 8th, the Whiting Refinery in Indiana shut down the largest of its three crude distillation units for unscheduled repair work. The shutdown was executed without incident and according to protocols.
While the rest of the refinery continues to operate safely, the outage has reduced production.
BP is working to safely restart the unit as soon as possible. In the meantime, the company is working to meet its fuel supply obligations."