Texas Officials Advise Calm: There Is No Gasoline Shortage

Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton advises drivers against “panic buying” of gasoline, which is only creating artificial shortages.

Drivers in Texas, state officials have a message for you: there is no need to panic and rush to fill up your tanks. There is plenty of gasoline.

After Hurricane Harvey forced several refineries in the state to close temporarily, rumors online and in the media took hold that gasoline supplies were severely disrupted. Experts warned that prices would rise, and concerns over shortages proliferated on social networks and the local news.

Those rumors created a panic, and Texans rushed to their local gasoline station to top off their tanks. Some even took extra containers to have an emergency stockpile in case the “disruption” lasted for a long time.

But state and local officials have been advising against drivers doing that. Thanks to the numerous refining networks in Texas and all across the country, gasoline is adequately supplied. Additionally, Texas refineries have begun reopening after temporarily shutting in during Hurricane Harvey.

The “panic” was largely manufactured, and all it has done is create artificial shortages at some local stations. Oddly, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy: concerns about shortages caused people to fill up when they otherwise wouldn’t have, and filling stations ran out of fuel because of the sudden spike in demand – not because there was actually a shortage.

Here are some of the key state officials who have affirmed that there is no fuel shortage, drivers should not be hording gasoline, and Texans should only purchase fuel as they normally would.

Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas:

Christi Craddick, Chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas:

Wayne Christian, Texas Railroad Commissioner:

“Fuel supply shortages in some areas have been exacerbated because normal buying habits have changed. Consumers returning to their routine buying habits – recognizing that they need fuel for a few days and not a few weeks – will be a great help as the system is being brought back fully online. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency, consumers should maintain regular buying habits for their vehicles, which can help alleviate a sudden surge in demand. Railroad Commission staff is working overtime to help where we can, and we will continue communicating and working with other stakeholders to ensure the safe distribution, reliable accessibility, and affordable price of gasoline in the State of Texas.”

Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio:

“San Antonio, at the moment, gas purchases are at 2.5x rate of daily purchases & folks are hoarding,” the mayor wrote. “We need to do better as we resolve this together. Please be considerate. People are experiencing a gas shortage because others are loading up on more than necessary. If we all work on fueling as needed and not over consuming, we will expedite our return to normal. Share with one another and be a good neighbor.”

To be clear, there may be some temporary supply disruptions in certain parts of the state, but those are more due to logistical issues – such as getting enough tanker trucks on the road to deliver gasoline – than any major supply problems. For several days, many routes were still too flooded for trucks to pass through, but companies have found alternate routes, and flood waters have now receded from many of the major roads.

Governor Abbott has also eased some restrictions to make sure fuel is getting to market as soon as possible:

As an additional precautionary measure, last week the U.S. Department of Energy released 500,000 barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to a Gulf Coast refiner, to make sure fuel supplies were not disrupted.

The bottom line is that Texas drivers should not be panicking about gasoline. Prices may be slightly elevated for awhile, but there’s no reason to stockpile fuel.

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