Texas gasoline supplies are plentiful for now; worries about price spikes and inaccurate social media claims drive gas panic, long lines at the pump
Anecdotal evidence shows a needless panic over gasoline supplies has been spreading across Texas and in some cases in other US cities, much of it fueled by social media misinformation.
Gasoline supplies are plentiful but news of refinery shutdowns along the Gulf Coast -- and today's shutdown of the vital Colonial Pipeline (see TER news story below) -- has some thinking a gas shortage is imminent, a sentiment that has spread widely.
Much of the concern stems from worries that the price of gasoline will shoot up because of the refinery shutdowns, but then prices rose as the run on gasoline continued.
Gasoline deliveries are expected to increase over the weekend and into next week as the supply system stabilizes.
Long lines at gas stations are appearing in photographs and anecdotes all over social media with sites offering "tips" on which stations are running out.
News articles about gas stations running out are feeding the frenzy; Even "D" Magazine ran an article on where to find gasoline in the Metroplex.
Meanwhile, analysts are calling for patience: "Motorists are going to have to wait for supplies and prices to return to normal," GasBuddy Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan told the Houston Chronicle.
The "panic" is self-fulfilling; Consumers are lining up at gas stations in Dallas as though a shortage has already arrived, which causes a run on gasoline, which empties local supplies until more gas can be trucked in, which may take a few days.
Railroad Commission of Texas CommissionerRyan Sitton said Thursday that supply deliveries are simply running behind because of Hurricane Harvey and because of increased demand.
The state has a supply of more than 200 million gallons of gasoline to be delivered to stations.
The bottleneck appears to be the delivery system, which is taxed because of increased demand in the southern portion of Texas following the hurricane.
"There is a challenge of logistics, getting that gasoline from where it is stored to the gas stations, and that is a real challenge and the people are working through that. But that challenge has been surpassed by a run on gas stations," Sitton told ABC News.
The true shortage has been largely confined to the Gulf Coast, where high water has made trucking in gasoline a dicey proposition and only now are delivery procedures getting back into place.
It took nearly a week for gasoline supplies to recover in the Houston area following Hurricane Ike in 2008.
By Mike Shiloh
Copyright August 31, 2017, Mike Shiloh, Texas Energy Report LLC, www.texasenergyreport.com, All rights are reserved