Drivers rush madly to the pump as bottlenecks are looming

Panicked motorists fearing gas pumps across Texas are flocking to gas stations to refill their tanks before the pumps run empty.

Mariah Maldonado, an employee at Flying J on Jacksboro Highway, said she had never seen a gas rush like she saw on Thursday afternoon in her three years in the business. She said the petrol station’s tank increased from 11,000 gallons to 6,000 gallons in about three hours.

“All of our pumps have now been full for about five hours. Everyone is always on a pump, ”she said. “It’s a big deal because we haven’t really heard anything about when we’re going to get our next truck.”

Maldonado said Flying J in Wichita Falls gets its gasoline products from a Houston refinery, but diesel comes from a different location.

Each line at Sam's Club gas station had multiple cars on Thursday afternoon after social media posts reported gas shortages in other Texan cities due to Hurricane Harvey.

Oil refineries have been offline for nearly a week or are being scaled back after Hurricane Harvey hit land on Friday and Saturday at Corpus Christi. The further north the system led to the Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and Lake Charles, Louisiana areas, meant more refineries had to close, including two of the largest facilities in the country.

Karr Ingham, an Amarillo-based petroleum economist, said the insane jump to gasoline was certainly a knee-jerk reaction from motorists, but it wasn’t an illogical reaction either. He said there was a relative scarcity compared to consumption and demand under normal circumstances.

“Then the actual deliveries will be severely restricted,” he said. “Well, of course, the news does get around a bit – there are probably a place or two that they run out of gas in that particular place and they find it difficult to get more.”

“As soon as the news spreads, this type of contagion begins.”

Ingham said even sane people who realize the shortage is temporary will still run into the rush to the pumps so they too can have fuel. He said it was a self-sustaining event that accelerates the likelihood of further shortages.

The Beaumont and Port Arthur refineries could be up and running again, Ingham predicted, but others further south could be online earlier.

A woman motorist who refueled at Sam’s Club on Kell Boulevard said the scene of cars lined up waiting for gasoline reminded her of Hawaii. She said the people of Aloha state would react the same way if a storm hit the island or there was an earthquake.

“And I see. A lot of these people got through the previous fuel shortages,” she said.

The price per gallon of regular gasoline in Wichita Falls was at a low of $ 2.09 on Thursday afternoon, according to The highest price was $ 2.39 in some locations around the city.

The Texas attorney general said anyone who sees gasoline prices of $ 4 or more should take pictures and report gas stations as price drivers.

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