Shutdowns of oil platforms, refineries and pipelines along the Gulf Coast drove energy prices sharply higher today.
That all but guarantees a surge in pump prices in the days ahead.
Oil prices jumped by more than three dollars to top $70 a barrel.
The buying frenzy reflects uncertainty and fear about the full extent of the damage Hurricane Katrina inflicted on key energy infrastructure.
Analysts say that even if Katrina did less harm than feared, its effects would tighten the availability of already scarce refined products like heating oil and gasoline.
Tom Kloza directs the Wall, New Jersey-based Oil Price Information Service. He says some gasoline is priced as high as $2.85 cents a gallon in Gulf Coast wholesale markets. Retail costs are typically 60 cents higher, meaning motorists there could very well see pump prices top $3 a gallon.
According today's fuel price survey from AAA Alabama, regular averages $2.50 a gallon; midgrade fuels are almost $2.68; and premium hovers near $2.76 a gallon.