Office of Energy Policy
Hurricane Katrina Impacts Petroleum

Press Release Date:  Thursday, September 01, 2005  
Contact Information:  Lola Lyle

Frankfort, KY, (Sept. 1, 2005) – Hurricane Katrina disrupted supplies of crude oil and caused the shutdown of refineries and pipelines along the gulf coast.  As a result, Kentucky and other states are facing a tightening of supply for both gasoline and diesel fuel.  In anticipation of this event, many supplies of petroleum and refined products were shipped north to regional storage and distribution hubs.  Prices and availability of fuel will depend on restoration times in the states hit hardest by the storm. 

“I want to thank those gasoline distributors who are remaining calm and keeping prices reasonable during this time,” says Jason Bentley, Executive Director of the Office of Energy Policy.  “We are working with the Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association and the Attorney General to closely monitor this situation.”    

A number of steps are being taken to minimize the impact for consumers on the price at the pump.  If restoration efforts go as planned in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, prices should recover very soon.  

Yesterday, at the national level, the federal government announced that it would release oil supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  This action had the immediate positive effect of pulling oil prices back below $70 per barrel.  Also, the federal government has waived trucking restrictions on fuel carriers, and the EPA issued a waiver on certain gasoline requirements making additional supplies available.

At the state level, Governor Fletcher announced today that all non-essential state employee travel would be curtailed for the next several days.  In addition, the Transportation Cabinet is taking steps to improve the efficiency of the state vehicle fleet and to maximize the use of alternative fuels.

Yesterday afternoon, some pipeline capacity that transports gasoline and diesel fuel to the Midwest from the Gulf Coast region was restored, with additional supplies anticipated to come online by this weekend.

As a result of these and other initiatives, the September price for wholesale gasoline closed yesterday at $2.62 per gallon from a high of nearly $3.00 per gallon.

In the long-term, Governor Fletcher’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy provides a road-map to keep gasoline prices affordable for Kentuckians in the future.  These steps include increasing production and use of renewable fuels such as ethanol and bio diesel, improving the efficiency of the state vehicle fleet, promoting deployment of coal-to-liquids technologies that can produce alternatives to petroleum based fuels with almost zero emissions and expanding regional refinery capacity.  Information on these and other initiatives can be found at

In the meantime, there are a number things consumers can do to improve fuel economy.  For example:
• Avoid high speeds:  As your speed increases, your aerodynamic drag increases in an exponential fashion.  Driving 62 mph vs. 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by about 15 percent.
• Do not accelerate or brake abruptly: By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20 percent.
• Keep tires properly inflated: Keep tire air pressure at the level recommended by the manufacturer. A single tire under-inflated by 2 PSI increases fuel consumption by 1 percent.
• Consolidate trips.
• Stay at home!

For more gasoline saving tips and information about ridesharing programs in Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky, visit the Office of Energy Policy’s Web site at