The Gas Shortage is Fake, and Panic Makes It Worse

by Jacob McCartney on 2017-09-05

Following Hurricane Harvey and hearing about the shutdown of Port Arthur oil refinery and Exxon Mobil closing its Beaumont refinery, I began to hear stories of long lines to get gas, prices rising, and gas stations running low on gas. I even went to the nearest gas station a few days ago and found a limit of $10 a purchase for gas which was $2.99 a gallon. Intrigued, I decided to look deeper into this.

The truth is that the shortage is mostly fake.

As refineries shut down, rumors begin to float around about shortages. As customers start to worry about not being able to get gas, they rush to the gas stations to fill up before they run out. Gas stations are quickly running out of gasoline, and due to the constant refill orders, it is taking longer and longer to be resupplied.

People all over Texas are reporting long lines, rising prices, and gas stations running out and not being able to resupply themselves. It certainly appears like a shortage. That is the key word, though. “Appears.”

While 3 million barrels of refined oil are offline in the state, the US has 230 million stored away for situations just like this. “There’s plenty of gasoline,” Ryan Sitton, Texas Railroad Commissioner, said. “This will subside.”

The temporary shortages stem from the rumors about shortages, Sitton explained. When refineries shut down, it makes sense that there would be a shortage, so people panic. Panicking customers put extra demand on gasoline, and stations struggle to meet the rise. Gas stations are forced to raise their prices in order to keep their supply up.

“For the most part in Dallas it seems to be panic buying, people are worried that there won’t be any gas in the future,” Jonathan Willner, an Oklahoma City University economics professor, said. “If we would all relax a little bit, we would find we’re not actually running out gasoline at the stations.”

Basically, fear about shortages have resulted in temporary shortages. If people were to continue their regular routine for filling up their tanks, gas stations would be able to keep up. They would have no problem. Instead, we have a perceived shortage.

In the future, people need to remain calm and look at issues more rationally. This would not be happening if that were to happen. San Angelo LIVE! put it simply: “Texas has plenty of gasoline and Facebook has plenty of naive individuals willing to cause panic through alarming and untruthful posts.”


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