Motorists across North Texas were hard-pressed to find open fuel pumps on Wednesday and Thursday thanks to fears of gas shortages brought on by Hurricane Harvey, but by Friday, the long lines of vehicles had largely subsided in Texoma and so too had drivers’ concerns.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Southeast Texas last week, causing widespread flooding and forcing many of the gas refineries and production facilities stationed along the Gulf Coast to temporarily cease operations. Motorists feared the storm would impact the supply of gas heading into the Labor Day weekend and began their rush on stations Wednesday night. The initial panic prompted gas distributors and even Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton to issue statements explaining there was no shortage and that fuel deliveries had merely been delayed by the storm.
“What we had yesterday was panicked buying from Dallas on north,” Douglass Distributing CEO Brad Douglass said. “Everybody was worried and filling up gas cans and barrels and everything, waiting for the apocalypse to happen. Obviously it did not and, today, it’s just a regular but busy Friday.”
Douglass said that because one third of the nation’s oil refineries were taken offline for the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, regional distributors have been forced to source their shipments of gasoline from smaller, inland refineries in East Texas and Oklahoma. As a result, Douglass said tankers have had to wait in longer lines and have been able to collect less fuel than they would from a larger refinery. Douglass explained the inland refiners produce in the neighborhood of 50,000 to 90,000 barrels of oil daily, while those on the coast are pushing out more that half a million barrels per day.
“It’s a matter of logistics,” Douglass said. “There’s no shortage — we still have plenty of gas to go around.”
Steve Bost, site director of the Exxon Mobil gas station located at the U.S. Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 82 intersection in Sherman, said Thursday’s crush of customers led his station to go through more than 6,000 gallons of fuel in just four hours. But by Friday, he said things had largely returned to normal.
“Compared to yesterday, it’s nothing,” Bost said of the traffic Friday. “It’s half of what it was.”
Gas prices nationwide have jumped by an average of 10 cents per gallon following the storm. Texoma drivers saw an increase at the pump as well, with the price per gallon floating between $2.39 and $2.49 in Sherman and between $2.29 and $2.39 in Denison on Friday. The national average price of regular unleaded sits at $2.51 per gallon.
Douglass said the Labor Day weekend ranks fourth among holidays with the highest consumer demand for gas. He explained his distributors were able to restock 90 percent of their stations Thursday night and Texoma motorists should have no problem finding fuel for their cars or even their boats over the long weekend.
“There have been a lot of calls to the marinas,” Douglass said. “We’ve got plenty of fuel there, so they’re in good shape. And with the beautiful weather expected this weekend, we anticipate a lot of folks will be out on the road and things will be busy as usual.”