The most pressing question for consumers is whether a storm that closes a great deal of capacity in the Gulf will raise gas prices, as Hurricane Irene did.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement issued a report on Thursday that said: "Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 a.m. CDT today, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 9 production platforms, equivalent to 1.6 percent of the 617 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico." About 6% of oil production is the Gulf is now offline.
The reaction may be premature, but the price of WTI crude has moved higher from about $86.50 to over $88 in the last two days. The price is bound to rise still further if the storm's threat to the Gulf increases, if history is any indication.