After Katrina, fears arose that the next hurricane would cause gasoline prices to rise again. Fortunately, Rita wasn't as tough as Katrinia and veered away from the Houston area's “Refinery Row,” which produces 23 percent of the nation's gasoline, according to a Chicago Tribune article.
However, some refineries near Port Arthur, Texas, and Lake Charles, La., the area that bore the brunt of the storm did report some damage. Also, natural-gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico were in Rita's path, but the extent of the damage is not yet known.
The Chicago Tribune article also stated, “Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, said because of tight supply and demand, refineries cannot make up for lost production, which he estimated at 10 million barrels daily, more than an entire day's consumption in the United States. Slaughter said the vast majority of the lost production from Rita would be coming back on line within a few days.”
Slaughter also mentioned that natural-gas prices are expected to soar this winter, and a further loss of supply will not make the situation any better.