Two More Weeks Of Gas Shortages In The South?

The New York Times has quoted an expert from Rice University who thinks that the gas shortages in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee could continue for two more weeks.

If I had to put a date on it, I’d say things won’t be normal for two more weeks,” said Kenneth B. Medlock III, an energy expert at Rice University, in Houston.

Meanwhile, consumers are going from being “good sports” about the shortage to getting downright angry about it.

“At first I was a good sport, but this is getting ridiculous,” said Marsha Lewis, 43, an administrative assistant who lives in Dacula, Ga., and commutes to Atlanta. “I drive an hour to work every day, and looking for gasoline has become my entire life.”

The shortage was caused by combination of refinery damage and power outages in Texas, says a spokesperson from the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, but there’s also plenty of blame being doled out to panicky consumers.

“You hear stories about tankers pulling into gas stations and people are already waiting — and they have half a tank,” Dr. Medlock said. “It’s akin to hoarding.”

Frustration in the South as a Gasoline Shortage Drags On [NYT]
(AP photo/Jason Bronis)


Edit Your Comment

  1. starrion says:

    Other states are not having this problem. Why the hell aren’t they trucking in additional gas from other locations to make up the shortfall?

    And why wasn’t this done when the problem started?

    • lamorevincera says:

      @starrion: At this point, it’s mainly stupid people panicking that’s causing most of the problem. If people would stop jumping at every gas station they see, things still wouldn’t be perfect – but they’d be a hell of a lot better around here.

      • novacthall says:

        @lamorevincera: There’s a lot of truth to that comment. A few weeks back when the impending supply shortage was imminent, my wife and I were discussing the ramifications of the news carrying the story. We agreed that it would only hurt things, with people panicking and buying gas without any real need. The effects of this are twofold:
        1) Gas sales exceed supply forecasting, causing a quicker shortfall than otherwise expected by normal use patterns, and
        2) The increased artificial demand coupled with the real and sudden supply shortage inflate the price of any gasoline remaining to be sold.

        It’s funny (not funny ha-ha, mind you) that for months, all people have been doing is complaining about high gas prices. Now they can’t seem to get enough of it.

        I started looking for gas when I hit a quarter tank, and came up dry until today at a hair above empty, and even then it’s only somewhat of a hit since I had to put 89 octane in my car that requires 91.

    • duckduckem says:

      @starrion: The original reason extra gas wasn’t trucked in in the beginning is b/c Georgia (or maybe just ATL) has smog requirements for the gas, so they can’t give us just anything. Gov. Perdue lifted that restriction, but it was too late and now people are hoarding and it’s just insane.

    • adama4ld says:

      They are out of gas because the Democratically controlled Congress will not allow Americans to drill in their own land which is plentiful with oil. We might kill some unidentified endangered fungus species if we do that.@starrion:

    • artki says:

      @starrion: >Why the hell aren’t they trucking in additional gas from other locations to make up the shortfall?

      I guessing here (hey, it’s the internet – I don’t have to be accurate) but I’d say the places with shortages have laws or regulations against “price gouging”. If the stations were allowed to charge 5, 6, 7 dollars a gallon they could afford to have gas trucked in from hundreds of miles away.

      Heck, if they just jacked up the price a dollar or two people would stop filling up when they had a half-full tank and the problem would go away… But, if you can’t up your price a lot because of “price gouging” rules – this is the kind of stuff that happens.

      • Necroscope says:

        @artki: Yeah, your not accurate. Price gouging laws allow for raising prices when cost goes up, not raising price when cost have not gone up. So, stations could truck in more gas, pay a higher price for it, and be allowed to pass the cost on to the consumer.

  2. lamorevincera says:

    I live in Atlanta, and lemme tell ya – the whole thing is ridiculous. You have to wait at least an hour to get gas, because everybody and their sister wants to fill that 1/4 of a tank that they’re missing up as soon as they see a gas station that actually HAS gas.

    I’ve been trying to drive as little as possible and only fill up when I really need it.

    I got gas the other night because I had to, and people are insane… like the lady six cars back in line who tried to get the station manager to make me wait so she could get in first, because she “deserves it more” (her words). Was she running on empty? Oh no. She still had half a tank.

    Utter stupidity.

  3. chauncy that billups says:

    stories like this don’t help. Who cares what a “Rice University Expert” thinks about how long it will last? What point does the story have except to cause people to continue to fill up when they have 1/2 – 3/4 tank? I dread the stories that will start warning that the FDIC is insolvent, causing bank runs that make it so.

    • sarahandthecity says:

      @bilups: Yeah, who cares what an energy expert and professor from a top university in Houston–the oil refinery capital and location of the backlog–has to say? What does he know? ask bilups instead!

  4. jblack says:

    I don’t buy this “hoarding” argument for gas. Whether you buy half a tank on Monday and again on Wednesday, or a full tank on Wednesday, you’ve still bought almost the same amount of gas by Wednesday (almost, because of the wait on monday that can be avoided). Are you guys really buying the idea that people spending an extra half gallon of gas by waiting for gas is seriously making this mess? As for me, I think your elected leaders, rather than taking the blame for not coming up with a solution, are blaming their own constituents.

    Sure, there’s some people filling up one or two five gallon gas containers, but surely this adds up to less gas than everyone buys during the summer to power their mowers and ATVs, drive for vacations, etc.

    Up here in Pennsylvania, I continue to fill my tank whenever it gets down to 1/2 full because I was taught that running a car down to nearly empty is bad for the gas level sensor and the engine.

    Lastly, if it’s that difficult to find gas, then one _shouldn’t_ let the tank go down to less than half a tank, so that you have a safety reserve for emergencies. If you need to pick your child up from school, go to the hospital for an emergency, or get to work on a day that there’s no gas, you’ll be able to do so.

    • B says:

      @jblack: The 20 gallons of gas I’m storing in my garage beg to differ. Finally, a good investment, I;m a financial genius
      *loud explosion*
      Ooooorr not.

    • Geblah187 says:


      The problem is the fueling pattern, not the aggregate amount of gas. People are filling up more *OFTEN* than they usually do, causing stations to run out more quickly – they get more gas in the next day, and get run dry again.

      If everyone went back to their normal fueling pattern, there would be little to no problem at all.

      • Necroscope says:

        @acasto: but its not more people, it is the same amount of people wanting less gas more often. It is a wash. this is a problem of supply, not of demand. And actuall, it is probably less people (you cann’t be alone in the work from home area) buying much less gas (no one is driving as much right now) more often.

    • este says:


      “I was taught that running a car down to nearly empty is bad for the gas level sensor and the engine.”

      Its not.

  5. SuperSnackTime says:

    the hoarding argument is getting pretty silly at this point… save for the handful of true crazies who rushed out and bought 5 gallon containers and filled them up and shoved them in their garage (I’ve not seen this happen BUT I’m pre-epting any ‘yeah buts’), people can only “hoarde” as much as their gas tank size allows them to do.

    A necessary requirement for hoarding is you have a warehouse to place your hoarde… and while human hoarding may have been an explanation in the first few days, its lost its explanatory power.

  6. ncboxer says:

    I live in one of places were gas in short. At first I thought- hey, listen to the “experts” and don’t buy gas until I need it. Guess what? When I really need it, no one has it or the lines are 2 hours long. So, yeah, when I get less than half a tank, my eyes start paying more attention to gas stations and whether they have gas or not. You can see a gas station with gas in the morning and by the afternoon, they are all gone.

    We had been promised repeatedly that they were sending very large loads to our area and trucking it in from other areas. It didn’t do much. Then I read today that the large shipment had arrived, but the supplier decided not to release a lot of it. No wonder the “gas crisis” is continuing.

  7. losiek says:

    Every reason is good to jack the prices. I do not want to sound like conspiracy theorist, but what reason is there exactly for the oil companies to fix the pipeline? We have a winner ;-)

    Seriously though, the arguments about people topping off the tanks is downright silly. I drive a civic (30 mpg the way I go), have modest drive to work (12 miles), work from home 2 times a week, and yet I go through the tank in a week. Even if I top it off 10 times a week, still I’m not using more gas.

    • jblack says:


      Yeah. When I lived in California, we had the same problems with the electricity companies intentionally causing shortages in order to drive up prices. Though Enron was far and above the worst of the players, coming up with nifty “game plan” names, they had a lot of company in forcing prices up.

      • losiek says:

        @jblack: Exactly. I am not exactly uncovering some secrets here by saying that even without the pipeline issues, the whole pricing thing stinks. When oil was $147 a barrel we had $4 avg in US. Now, it is down by 33% to $100 and yet the avg $ for gas is only 15% down? Eh, being consumer sucks ;-) And this is BTW primary reason I want someone to invent good fusion reactor. Good bye stinky oil!

    • chaos242 says:

      @losiek: “Even if I top it off 10 times a week, still I’m not using more gas.”

      True, BUT you’re going to the gas station 10 times more than you usually did, creating long lines and the artificial worry that there might not be gas when you need it. THAT’S the issue about “hoarding,” which I think is a misnomer.

    • XTC46 says:


      “Even if I top it off 10 times a week, still I’m not using more gas.”

      Actually you are, More fuel = more weight. more weight means fewer MPG. Keeping a full tank means you will burn more fuel, and the extra gas going to the gas station (even if on the way to someplace you were already going, its one extra startup for your car, which burns fuel)

      • losiek says:

        @xtc46: Statistically insignificant I say. Colder weather, inflated tires, 30 pounds more (on average) or less – there will be no noticeable difference.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @losiek: I drive about 15 miles to work there and 15 miles back. 5 times a week and a 10 gallon tank lasts just over two weeks. In a corolla that gets basically the same mileage. I think you might have a leak in your tank.

  8. acasto says:

    I live in Asheville, NC where we’ve been having a shortage for the past two or so weeks. For some reason the problem showed up here in the mountains a week or so before the rest of the South East, and from what I’ve seen here I can only imagine the hell people are going through in places like Charlotte and Atlanta. My brother was able to get me a few gallons in a can last week and I was able to get into my office and pack everything up and take it home with me so that I can work from here for a while.

    For the people who don’t believe the hoarding argument… trust me, it’s real. First of all, it doesn’t matter that over the course of a week or two they will have purchased the same amount of gas, because also over that week or two the stations would have received multiple shipments, giving enough time to keep inventories stable. Secondly, more people than you think are filling up gas cans. They tried to impose limits here. Unfortunately they only worked at certain places where they actually forced people to comply.

    • losiek says:

      @acasto: Sure, filling cans will do it. But just in the tank, the argument does not hold. So I “hoarded” 1-2 days more of gas on average. How’s that making life worse in month long shortage?

      • acasto says:

        @losiek: You are obviously over-simplifying the situation. Here in the mountains things are quite spread out, so “1-2” days of gasoline in trucks and SUVs can amount to quite a bit. Then figure that suppliers are only able to secure maybe a third of what they used to be able to. Then figure that when gas was available at any given time that only a few out of a dozen stations in any given area actually had it. It’s pretty simple… less gas going to stations, fewer stations have gas period, more people want gas.

  9. timmus says:

    I have to agree that the hoarding claims seem to be a meme invented by gas distributors to shift blame onto consumers. I refuse to believe there’s a strain on supply lines if people are just topping off their tanks more. Now if people are showing up en masse with 5-gallon gas containers or if thousands are driving longer miles because some chain email said to stick it to the oil companies that way, that’s a different story.

    Sounds a lot like bankers trying to blame the bubble on consumers taking out mortgages they couldn’t afford when in fact there’s plenty of blame to go around at the top.

  10. mfokp says:

    My brother brought up a good point:

    You may not be using any more gas than normal whether you fill up once a week or 10 times a week, but waiting in line just to top off is more about hording the time and space from those who may need the gas more.

    If the SE is short on gas, fine, I can deal with it. These lines, however… ridiculous.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @NotYou007: I’m in Kansas City, MO. Gas is right now 3.22 a gallon and was 3.14 last Friday and over the weekend. No supply problems at all. And considering we are north of Texas, I would assume the same Texan refineries supplying the south east supply Kansas City.

  11. Bourque77 says:

    I live near charlotte nc and work in charlotte. When I get down near half a tank i start looking around where i live and wait maybe 5-10 minutes and fill up. Hoarding or not I’ll be damned if I’m getting caught without gas and then be forced to wait in line for hours.

  12. Jon Mason says:

    The reason that “hoarding” aka “topping off unnecessarily” causes shortages is this:

    Using low numbers for the sake of simplicity but the same logic applies:

    Say a station has 7 customers who normally each come in on a different day of the week and buy 7 gallons of gas. The store gets 14 gallons delivered every two days.

    Rumors of a shortage spread, so now on Monday in addition to customer 1 buying his usual, the Thu-Fri customers instead of waiting for their usual day come in and top off with 2 gallons each and use up all the gas.

    On Tuesday the gas station is out, so the Tuesday customer can’t fill up as normal.

    On Wednesday, the Tue/Wed customers want to fill up, plus everyone who bought gas Monday wants to top off again. So once again there would not be enough gas for everyone who wants it… and so on – indefinitely unless they can get enough gas one day to fill everyone back up and quell the panic, which would get everyone back to their normal usage pattern…

    If gas stations routinely kept 1000 times more gas than usual demand then yes, over time the demand is not going up any more than usual. However, panicking people want the gas they would normally want in a few days TODAY, so instead of being evenly spread out, the demand is being front-loaded and there is not the slack in the system to cater for it.

    • 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

      @masonreloaded: I like the way you explained that, my explanation for my mother had the same goal, but was way more complicated…

      • Geblah187 says:

        @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich:

        Thank you! Finally someone who understands. It’s not “hoarding” it’s the damn buying pattern.

        And this article keeps reminding me i’m down below 1/4 tank – and I live in Atlanta. I sure hope I can find some gas on my lunch break >_>

        • TideGuy says:


          Great job explaining the problem in a simplified manner. Unfortunatly, those that claim the gas companies are out to get us won’t pay attention.

          I live in Atlanta and I haven’t spent more than 5 minutes waiting once I find a station with gas.

  13. I_Elohel says:

    A Nashvillian here.

    We were the first to be hit by this shortage (at least, first besides the local areas affected by the Hurricane) and we’re still having intermittent gasoline shortages here.

    But that’s it.

    It’s very possible to find petrol now and you don’t have to wait in line.

    The moral of the story: Give everyone time to get their underwear pulled from the behinds and things will calm back down.

  14. Bourque77 says:

    Why is it that the average price of gas around here is now 40 cents higher than the national average. Is that the consumers fault as well?

    • quail says:

      @Bourque77: Supply and demand. You guys are demanding more than what they can supply. So yea, you are to blame.

      Overall gas prices fell when the US consumer spent the spring and summer quarters driving billions of miles less.

      Add to the fact that I think one of the gas pipelines heading to your part of the country was down for awhile. That gas was trucked in and it added to the price for awhile.

      Give it awhile and you should be paying less than the north east in short time.

      • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

        @quail: But the ‘demand’ portion you speak of was precipitated by the announcements that there ‘might be’ a shortage of gas.
        This happens all the time whenever these greedy ba$tards see some sliver of opportunity to make money off of the misfortune of others.

        I now bow out so that others (and you know who you are) can tell me how wrong I am to blame the people on the top of this pile (with their hands in my pockets).

  15. DaphneTobias says:

    I live in the TriCities of TN theres plenty of gas here. It’s 3.70 a gallon. In knoxville (about 100 miles away) Theres also plenty of gas and its 3.35-3.40 a gallon. Down another hour to chattanooga and its 3.80 with only a few stations with gas. 90 mins away in atlanta its 4.00 some places and theres traffic jams of people waiting in line for gas. Such a ridiculous situation that could be solved by spreading it out more.

  16. mlradio says:

    Actually, I see this as a wake-up call to individuals who do not realize just how unprepared they are to handle a crisis.

    Folks, this is a relatively minor disruption in supply to a fairly small part of the country. I could imagine all sorts of scenarios that could cause much larger problems for huge chunks of the nation (no reason to name them – I’m sure you could easily come up with a dozen disaster scenarios yourself). Gasoline, water, electricity, you name it.

    But we are so addicted to gasoline to go about our normal daily lives. And even if you personally have a hybrid car and a hundred gallons of gas saved for an emergency — your neighbors, your co-workers, your customers, your suppliers, your shopkeepers, etc — do not.

    As a nation, we are never more than 48-72 hours away from running out of “something” – we rely on just-in-time resupply of vital resources, that *any* tiny little hiccup can cause massive problems. I see this particular shortage that the southeast is dealing with now as an example of what might happen on a larger scale in the future. Not if, but when.

    • DrGirlfriend says:

      @mlradio: I don’t know that it’s just that we are addicted to gasoline. I don’t know if it’s a human reaction across the board, or a First World thing, but we panic atthe mere mention that something is in short supply. We not only have to have what is in short supply, but we have to have as much as we can possibly get. I remember reading a study about this not too long ago – the perception of a shortage increases demand for an item, even if it’s not an item we need regularly.

  17. GothamGal says:

    An administrative assistant that drives an hour to work? How can you feel bad for someone using that much gas per day? This will help smarten people up. I bet that she drives an SUV to top it off.

    • camille_javal says:

      @GothamGal: Atlanta is one of the most suburban-sprawled cities I’ve ever seen – I grew up down there, and towns that used to be way out in the boonies are suddenly considered to be suburbs. As an administrative assistant, she may not be able to afford much closer to Atlanta, and living in Dacula, I don’t know if there are many jobs that much closer to home that don’t involve a Hardee’s uniform (I apologize if Dacula has turned into a thriving metropolis since the 1990s). You go where the work is – it’s that way in most of the country, from what I can tell.

    • lamorevincera says:

      @GothamGal: You’ve got to understand that the job market here in Atlanta for admin assistants is dried up, so that hour commute may be all this lady can get. Also, an hour’s pretty typical here… the centers of business and affordable residential areas are not always in the same place.

  18. puddleglum411 says:

    If only they could raise prices higher, thus sending a signal to consumers that the commodity is scarce and should be used sparingly! But that would be price gouging. I’m glad I’m not in the gas business right now, because it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Allow me to explain the hoarding problem:

    I did some estimation to figure that 8,000,000 gallons/day is probably Georgia’s gasoline usage.
    There are 9,500,000 people in Georgia, let’s say half of them drive a car, that’s 4,750,000.
    Now, one day, everyone goes from running down to 1/4 tank on average, to 3/4 tank on average. That’s 1/2 tank per person, let’s say 9 gallons of gas.
    New demand is 9 * 4,750,000 = 42,750,000 gallons, or about 5 days gas supply.

    SO even if there were NO supply problems, if everyone did this, and the gas companies were able to increase normal supply by 25%/day, it would take nearly three weeks (20 days) for shortages to stop. If there are supply problems, and people are not reducing their consumption, shortages can quite literally continue indefinitely.

  19. GearheadGeek says:

    Did this problem exist before there were eleventy-seven different legally-mandated formulations for gasoline? I’ve been driving for 27 years, and living in the Gulf Coast/South almost all of that time and I don’t remember weeks of gasoline shortages every time a hurricane made it to the Gulf Coast when Unleaded was the same most everywhere.

    There’s some empirical support for the concept of different gas recipes for different weather conditions, but it probably isn’t really defensible that different states with similar elevations and climate require different formulations… it causes the inventories of any given formulation to be smaller, leading to more sensitivity to shortage.

    I’d bet money that a rational mind (rather than 100 bureaucratic minds) could come up with two or three different forumas per season (to take local climate and altitude into account) that would give 99% of the benefit of the dozens of specialized formulas and make fuel more interchangeable again.

  20. NotYou007 says:

    So all the way up here in Maine I can get gas for 3.45 a gallon, which I did today and there are no signs of any type of shortage at all but a state that is very close to the Gulf has issues.

    I understand the storm hit, I understand a pipeline was shutdown but we do have these things called big rigs and trains that can move product from location to location.

    Must suck huge monkey nuts to live down in GA right now and pay four plus a gallon after you waited two hours for it. I’d want to hurt someone as well.

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      It’s not just the difference between living in ME and living in GA, either. I live in NC and we haven’t had any shortages that I’ve seen (near Fayetteville). Seems crazy that one part of the state have problems and not another.

  21. Canino says:

    It sure would be nice if there were more refineries to produce enough gasoline from plentiful oil. None have been built in the US in 25 years. Thanks democrats!

    • @Canino: Since nobody is stopping anyone from building refineries, your comment makes no sense.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        @Glamourdammerung: Yeah, and some oil companies are actually shutting down or reducing production at refineries. The gas situation isn’t the fault of just one group or one thing. There are a lot of factors that go into it, not all controlled by the US. OPEC, government regulations and taxes, environmental requirements, perceived shortages, power outages in the south, etc. Blaming one group is short-sighted.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @Glamourdammerung: Nor does the fact that there were twice as many refineries operating, until the GOP-run Federal gov’t allowed Big Oil to buy up all of them, consolidate and promptly shut many of them down for “efficiency”.
        “Efficiency” of price-gouging, that is.

  22. MikeB says:

    Some of the blame for the shortages can be placed with the media. Everything on the news right now is doom and gloom. One of the big lead stories on fox in Charlotte was about a gas station that had gas and there were no lines. Come tomorrow they will probably be out.

    I see this happen (Milk and bread) whenever there is a chance of snow or ice in Charlotte. Go out to the supermarket and the milk and bread isles are just about empty.

    I do not think this would have been nearly as bad if the reporters (and the hoarders) used a little bit more common sense.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      Yes, that happens here in SW MO too. If there is snow or ice forecast, everyone hits the grocery store pretty hard.

      In the January 2007 ice storm, there was no gas because there was no power. Anywhere. I found an open gas station two days after the storm started and it took me 45 minutes to fill up. But people were polite and took turns. It was pretty cool.

      I paid $3.09 for gas Monday. That’s the lowest it’s been in a while.

  23. ashabanapal says:

    i’m in charlotte and i can understand how people filling up unnecessarily creates strain on the system and could contribute to prolonging a shortage. i do not and have not acted irresponsibly when obtaining gas. even if i were one of these jackasses causing fistfights in parking lots, hoarding would not have even been possible for me. there are no less than 20 gas stations of varying capacities within 5 miles of my house. not one has had gas for more than a few hours in the last two weeks. there was even a local news story about some people sleeping in their cars at a station down the street because they were completely out of gas and had no choice but to wait for that station to get a shipment. a couple of people were there for 24 hours before the delivery came. i spent a total of 4 hours in line this past sunday at three different stations, watching my needle tick down from an eighth of a tank just to get 8 gallons to get me to and from work this week. the first two ran dry while i was in line. i read the other day that the oil companies who supply our pipeline had a one week emergency reserve. that seems either incredibly irresponsible or incredibly arrogant to me. you have to supply roughly 20% of the nation and you don’t think that your production capacity could be derailed for more than a week? fail.

    • MikeB says:

      @ashabanapal: I was actually lucky this Saturday (am in Charlotte too). The wife came home, she was on fumes, and told me that the BJ’s up the street had gas. So, I grabbed my book, stopped and got a soda and a snack and went to BJ’s. There was no line. Filled up, ran home got my car (had 1/4 tank) and filled it up. The line started forming up right about then and they were out of gas in no time.

  24. Overheal says:

    All I can say is this is a great time to have got a brand new bicycle from costco.

    I swear, somewhere in the last 10 years its like people have forgotten they have feet. You can honestly witness people sitting in their cars in parking lots -burning gas- so they can wait for someone to pull out of parking space A because it is 5 spaces closer than parking space B. I wouldnt think this country had gotten so stupid if i hadnt seen it with my own eyes.

    People: Save gas. Walk the extra hundred yards. It cant be too bad for your health either.

  25. Dville-Julie says:

    @GothamGal: you must live in a small town….here in the Atlanta metro area, it is not unusual to have to drive an hour or more to work.

    Atlanta has one of the worst commutes in the country and there are not many alternatives to driving a car to work. The subway and bus systems only cover a limited area of the city and even then, many of us have to drive several miles to get to a station. If you drive long distances to work every day on the interstate, topping off the tank at half a tank is a good idea.

    I blame the media in large part for the run on gas here…at least in the beginning. But today things seem to be improving, so I hope we’re turning the corner.

  26. Trencher93 says:

    Yeah, at any time T in the gas shortage, the time until normality is “a week to ten days” – this is the standard answer week after week after week. As time passes, the answer doesn’t change, much like BitTorrent downloads that say 14 hours and when you turn on your monitor the next morning it still says 14 hours.

  27. vdragonmpc says:

    I guess no one is going to lay some blame on refiners who were cutting production all summer.

    Do some searching and you will see that a lot of the gas swings were right around the ‘gas supply went down 2% this week’ and HEY since oil is high and refiners have no incentive to make gas they are cutting production.

    Bottom line is that the refiners created the problem and the hurricane put a big explanation point on it.

    • Powerlurker says:


      If anyone is responsible for the so-called price gouging, it’s not the refiners which is about as close to a perfectly competitive industry as can be found. No one makes money on refining. In the best of times it’s a break-even proposition. Refineries are massively expensive to build and maintain and hemorrhage money when not running at or near capacity. Additionally, retail gas sales have profit margins of only a few cents per gallon, most of which gets eaten up by credit card fees. About the only link in the petrochemical chain that actually makes money is extraction. Exxon doesn’t make their marginal dollar refining the gasoline or selling it a gallon at a time for $3.50. They make their money from owning productive oilfields that allow them to extract a $125 barrel of oil for $30, and most oilfields are far less productive than that.

  28. Micromegas says:

    Columbia, SC here. The shortage got so bad that at one point last week, one of the local evening news stations announced that every gas station in the city was out of gas. After that, some of the local radio stations sent out crews to follow the gas tankers and report live from the scene when the tanker stopped to deliver gas to a station, which of coursed caused a rush to that station and huge, traffic-snarling lines, and then the station was again out of gas within an hour or two.

    The shortage has eased up SLIGHTLY since then, but it’s still a huge headache to go out on an adventure to find a station which actually has gas. I don’t go out on a search until I’m at a quarter of a tank, because I don’t want to contribute to the shortage, but I’m starting to worry that I might run out that quarter of a tank just making the rounds to the gas stations after work to see if any of them have gas.

    Once I actually find a station with gas, then of course I have to wait in line and deal with the people who believe that they’re entitled to the gas more than me because they’re a single mother or a busy businessman or etc. And some people are more than willing to fight over it. A few of my local stations have police there during business hours to keep order. I won’t be surprised at all if someone gets killed over gas before this shortage ends.

    • ivanthemute says:

      Dude, Malfunction Junction (I-20 & Bush River) The Sonoco hasn’t run out yet (they’ve got like, a 75k tank) and are still recieving regular shippments. Don’t know what part of Cola, but if you’re in the NW, come on by!

    • seraphilistic says:


      Columbia here, too. I live near the intersection of Rosewood/S. Beltline, and the only station still out of gas around me is the Kangaroo at S. Kilbourne/Rosewood. The Exxon, BP, Shell, and Gate (from S. Kilbourne up to Garner’s Ferry) have been fine for a week now.

      There are only 3 gas stations in “downtown” Columbia/ near the USC campus. If you’re only looking there, it’s no wonder you can’t find anything.

  29. GingerThanatos says:

    Absolutely! This is why I bought a place within a short walk to the train station that takes me to work in Midtown Atlanta and back each day all for the low monthly cost of $53. I haven’t put gas in my car in nearly two months. I love hearing my co-workers complain about the lack of available gas and the gas prices going up. This hasn’t become a problem for me as I choose to WALK or take public transportation. America has been set up to support the ‘need’ of cars, while I am going in another direction and saving money on transportation and I will be selling my car soon so I don’t have to pay for insurance on a car that I hardly drive. I bought the car with cash too, so take that now failing banks and now failing car dealers and failing gasoline distribution.
    I know that what I do cannot be done by all, but it can be done by many more people if they would stop being lazy and worried about the perceived inconvenience.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    The really good news about this is that IF the drilling-ten-feet-off-every-mile-of-coast thing happens, the South’s problems will be SOLVED.
    In about ten years. And for a couple years, max.

    Hang in there, Deep South. We’ll keep rooting for ya in the next 36,500 days!

    PS: sorry, billion-dollar tourism industries across GA, FL, CA, OR, WA, LA, etc. No one likes spending money to visit tar-scarred beaches. But hey, there’s always Disneyland!

  31. cronomorph says:

    Thank goodness for MARTA is all I can say. I live 3 miles from the North Spring station and have a short ride down to the Buckhead station for work. I’ve got a bike I ride (even after that nasty wipeout a few weeks ago when that kid wouldn’t move. I didn’t know elbows could bleed that much!).

    It’s good I can do that, as 2 weeks ago my fiancee came to my house to hang out for the evening. We went out in her car for a gas hunting adventure, and after looking at every station in the immediate area (accursed busy Roswell road!) her car stayed parked at my place and she took my car. She had around 8 miles left on her tank, not enough to get home. I had maybe 60 miles left. She was able to find gas by her work and get around but it wasn’t till this current weekend we were able to fill my car and a 2 gallon can to retrieve her car and fill that.

    A smart QT on Pierce had cops to block off the station and only have one exit and entrance. Orderly lines and people directing you to a pump made for an amazingly short 15 minute wait.

    Also, ATLiens, if you have Twitter, check the feed for #atlgas. People are using that to report gas availablity, price, location, lines, etc.

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    Oops: too many zeros: 3,560

  33. RStewie says:

    I live in AL, and there’s no shortages here. Atlanta is 2 hours away.

    I just don’t understand WHY there’s a shortage there, but not here?

    • fizzyg says:

      @RStewie: I’m in Macon (1 hr south of ATL) and we don’t have a shortage either. Outside of just the higher concentration of people who live there, I’m guessing that people who travel were tending to stop there for gas vs. the little towns along the way. I’ve been wondering all week why they haven’t used the programmable interstate signs to recommend that people get gas at towns staggered along the route.

  34. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    A big part of the problem is the way everything is so spread out: your job is an hour away from your house is 30 minutes from your doctor is 45 minutes from the grocery store…

    Not to mention the fact that even if you wanted to spend 3 hours walking some place most roads are unfriendly to pedestrians. They practically require you to drive everywhere. I’m grateful every day that I was able to move to the apartment I’m in now. There’s a bus stop nearby, it’s next door to the library, and it’s in walking distance of a shopping center with a good grocery store.

    Before I moved I had to take two different buses to get to a grocery store. The closest one closed due to being both nasty and expensive.

    I promise you that people don’t want to do all that driving, especially now. But if your job is 1, 2, 3 hours away then you don’t have much choice.

  35. tankertodd says:

    This shortage down here is driving me up a wall. But you want to know the easy solution?

    Raise the prices. Gouge. Shaft us. That will do three things:
    1. Provide a disincentive to hoard
    2. Encourage conservation
    3. Provide real incentives for enterprising folks to meet the demand by increasing supply. This could be bubba driving to Tennessee with his homemade gas tank in the back of his pickup. This could be suppliers diverting fuel trucks from destination A to B.

    The people who really need the gas will be able to get it. Those who don’t need the gas won’t.

  36. hi says:

    This never should have happened in the first place.

    Leave it to the overpaid oil companies who make billions of dollars to not have any backup or emergency plan for this sort of thing. Stop blaming this on the consumer. The consumer didn’t stop the flow of gas. The gas and oil companies say they shut down refineries but they don’t point out they haven’t upgraded or build new refineries in 30 years. Why do they do this? It’s simple. When some small problem occurs or something breaks on their old worn out equipment they say “sorry we had a malfunction or something stopped working so were gonna have to raise the prices”. This all happened so conveintly when they were being pressed for why they raised the prices. Sure now that people can’t get gas they won’t mind them jacking the prices up to $5-$6.

  37. MexiFinn says:

    $40 limit? Umm… that’s almost a full tank of gas for me. And that’s with premium!

  38. Smashville says:

    Pipeline is running at full throttle…no more shortage in Nashville.

  39. noobis says:

    I live in Atlanta and spent a (tense) hour and a half waiting for gas last week. Believe me, by the time I had been in line a half an hour, I would have welcomed a little “price gouging.”

    The currency-based pricing mechanism is the best answer humanity has ever developed for the distribution of scarce resources. There’s not enough for everybody to have all they want. SOME mechanism will determine the distribution. The state government (in all its wisdom) has explicitly restated its ban on “price gouging,” letting the media know that it is investigating so many thousands of complaints. Because of this, the price I paid for ten gallons was $39.90 plus 90 tense minutes of my time.

    The problem here is not tight supply or hoarding. It is the artificially limited price. I think it’s safe to say that the gas station operators have not ALL colluded to make this situation happen. Let the freaking price settle where it will. People will buy less gas at $7 a gallon. If the lines go down, a competing station will charge $6.50, and so on. Please don’t argue that the scarcity is deliberate – any refiner, distributor, or retailer of gas will do everything in his or her power to move as much $7 gas as possible.

    The argument that the poor won’t be able to get to work is an empty one: I assure you there is nobody for whom gasoline is the ONLY discretionary purchase. I’m beginning to run low again and dread having to fight to get gas. Go ahead, “gouge” me!