If Hurricane Rita had bowled a strike on the nation's number one oil processing center, oil and gas consumers would have been pinned under bad news.
Tom Kloza says, "We would have been looking at apocalyptic price increases."
But the storm spared Houston, Texas, steering instead toward another refining region, the Port Arthur, Texas; Sabine, Louisiana area just before she hit.
There were fears of a repeat performance of post-Katrina gas prices. Then prices spiked 40 cents to an average of more than $3 a gallon and higher in some places, and while damage is still being assessed it's widely seen that Rita's impact on the pump will not peak Katrina's.
"We'll probably pay above $3, which on average across the country translates more to $400 million more than we paid last year, but its’ not going to be the $4, $5 and $6 numbers most people have been talking about."
Still, hurricane season is far from over at the tail end of November and industry insiders say any more storms barreling through hurricane alley may bring 4, 5 or even 6 dollar a gallon prices back on the horizon.
“We're pretty advanced in the alphabet and I hope Rita is one of the last we see impacting people and refineries.”
An ad in Monday’s New York Times outlines not only Exxon Mobil's strategy for post hurricane production, but urges consumers to do their part. The unthinkable for big business is to buy less of their product and conserve.