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Experts forecast that the price will continue to rise another 5 cents, due to Texas shutting down several oil refineries because of massive flooding in the state.

Gas prices in Providence are up 11.8 cents compared to this time last year, though GasBuddy says prices have varied widely over the last five years. "This is a market at work".

While the citizens of Texas deal with the enormous troubles spawned by the wicked tropical storm and onetime hurricane, the effect of the storm is being felt on a much, much smaller scale throughout the country. Citgo's 425,000 bpd Lake Charles refinery, on the Louisiana coast in the storm's path, halved capacity.

"Retailers can either go out of business or pass their costs along", said Tom Kloza, director of global energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.

But he also warned Americans to be careful to place the blame on oil companies.

The difference now is that soaring oil production in North Dakota and West Texas has made the USA less reliant on oil rigs in the Gulf, which are vulnerable to hurricanes. Gasoline prices eased off later in the day, however, finishing up 4.4 percent and up about 8 percent in the past week.

DeHaan said the fact that global reserves are en route underscores the "severity of the situation".

While infrastructure restarts following the storm are expected to extend into the coming weeks, on Wednesday Marathon Petroleum Corp was restarting its Galveston Bay Refinery, said sources familiar with plant operations.

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Buyers for Latin America, where many countries are heavily reliant on USA supplies, are trying to buy cargoes.

The impact of Hurricane Harvey has continued to dominate markets with sharp fluctuations across the energy complex due to the impact of refinery outages.

The nationwide average right now, she said, is $2.40 per gallon.

In Georgia and North Carolina, fuel prices are up about 17 cents and average prices in SC have risen almost 20 cents per gallon from a week ago.

"We are pennies from that", she added. The move did not halt rapidly rising gasoline prices, which surged more than 13% on August 31 to a two-year high above $2 a gallon ahead of the high-demand Labor Day holiday.

"We'll see prices increase, but it's just short term", she said. Payroll gains topped forecasts in five of the past seven months, putting the 2017 average increase of 184,000 nearly on par with last year's 187,000 and above levels typical for the eight-year expansion.

Kloza predicted that refinery shutdowns will lift per-gallon gas prices by 15 to 25 cents nationally, up from his earlier estimate of up to 20 cents. "Two days ago, it was $2.09 per gallon". Over 2 million bpd of refining capacity was estimated to be offline as a result of the storm.