North Texans Are Lining Up For Gas, And Paying More For It, Thanks To Harvey | KERA News

North Texans Are Lining Up For Gas, And Paying More For It, Thanks To Harvey

Aug 31, 2017

Cars are lined up at some gas stations across North Texas — and fuel prices in the state and across the country have jumped by at least 10 cents since Harvey pounded Houston and the Gulf coast.

The deadly storm forced the shutdown of at least eight refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, the Associated Press reports.

At many gas stations, cars wrapped around the block for a chance to fuel up. KERA's Courtney Collins spoke to folks waiting at a Chevron in Dallas just as it ran out of gas.

There are other stations with no gas, but Christi Craddick, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, urges Texans not to worry about a gas shortage. 

The Texas Railroad Commission regulates oil and gas in the state. The office of Commissioner Ryan Sitton issued this statement Thursday afternoon:

While some refineries have shut down or are operating at reduced capacity due to Hurricane Harvey, plenty of refining capacity is still online and we have more than 230 million barrels of gasoline supply in Texas to meet needs.

Citizens have no need to fear shortages even though prices could climb during the next few weeks until all refining capacity is back online.

Sitton also sat down with the Texas Tribune Thursday to talk about gas availability. 

AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump statewide was $2.26 per gallon. That's 12 cents higher than a week ago, before Harvey made landfall, and 4 cents higher than on Wednesday.

The association survey says U.S. gasoline prices Thursday averaged $2.45 per gallon, which is a dime higher than a week ago and 5 cents more than on Wednesday. 

Supply cuts, price spikes in North Texas

The supply crunch is being felt in Dallas-Fort Worth, where QuikTrip, one of the nation's largest convenience store chains, is temporarily halting gasoline sales at about half of its 135 stores in the area.

The company is instead directing gasoline deliveries to designated stores across the metro area, QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said. And while only half the Dallas-Forth Worth area stores will have gasoline, all will remain open, he said.

"Supply is way, way off," Thornbrugh said Thursday.

The Oklahoma-based company diverted gasoline deliveries in a similar way last year in metro Atlanta, where it has about 133 stores, after the Alabama pipeline spill.

Gas Guru's price projections for gas stations across uptown and downtown Dallas on Thursday, Aug. 31. Stations outlined in gray don't have gas, according to the app.
Credit Gas Guru / Screenshot

RaceTrac, another major retailer, hasn't experienced any serious disruptions at their 112 North Texas stores, but a spokesperson said it could happen.

QuikTrip keeps a list of area locations with gas online and on its mobile app. Other people have turned to apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru to keep updated and find the cheapest place to fill up in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

In North Texas, Dallas had the most expensive gasoline in Texas on Thursday at an average $2.37 per gallon, according to the Associated Press.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that prices spiked to an average of $2.39 in the Fort Worth and Arlington area Wednesday night.

How long it could last

Somewhere around 15 percent of U.S. oil refining capacity was put offline by the hurricane-turned-tropical-storm, KUT reports. How the weather holds out will be a key factor in how quickly refineries reopening.

The operator of a major gasoline pipeline estimates it can resume carrying fuel in the Houston area by Sunday, the Associated Press reports, potentially avoiding a lengthy shutdown that would intensify gasoline shortages.

The Colonial Pipeline provides nearly 40 percent of the South's gasoline. It runs underground and is now under water in many parts of Texas, where inspections are needed before it can be fully operational again, Colonial spokesman Steve Baker said Thursday.

Nearly one-third of the nation's refining capacity is along the Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi, Texas, to the Lake Charles, Louisiana area, and about one-quarter of the Gulf Coast's oil refining capacity was taken offline, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

The Colonial Pipeline, a crucial artery in the nation's fuel supply network, runs from the Houston area to New York harbor and includes more than 5,500 miles of pipeline, most of it underground.