Mayberry (Gas) Bank Run

9/12/08 at 9:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I follow the oil industry a little closer nowadays than compared to a few years ago.  I usually check out TOD (the oil daily, though the wingnuts affected with BDS can make it difficult to read.  Anywhozitz, based on what I have learned on that site I could see a strong chance of Hurricane Ike causing significant disruption to gasoline supplies for at least a week.  Yesterday I had not seen the price of gas going up as you would expect a few days before a big storm, so I put it on the backburner.

This morning some stations started to jack up the price big-time (from $3.55 to over $4) and I thought about filling up my tank at stations that were still at the low price.  I even turned around a few times before finally heading to work, mainly because I didn’t have any cash on me and I didn’t want to charge the gas (I had to use my emergency $20 last weekend).  I was gnashing my teeth over it, but thought that I’d end up paying a few $$ extra as a me-so-stupid tax for not filling up the night before.

I called Kristal and let her know to at least fill up the van as soon as possible.  When she went out to drop off the girl at “school”, she already saw some of the high prices and took action.  Not only did she fill the van up but she traded vehicles at my job and filled up the truck as well with low price gas, just before they hiked the price.  So kudos to my Kristal!

While we were talking on the phone I told her it reminded me of times from the Depression when people would make a run on banks.  She said she thought of the same thing.  Instead of greenbacks they were going after black gold – well, the stuff refined from black gold.  At lunchtime the last station still selling the cheap gas had a line of at least 40 cars, with employees directing traffic at the entrances.  By the drive home that station had plastic bags over the handles.

It looks like Ike will deal a heavy blow to the refineries around Houston (representing about 1/4 of the US refinery capacity), and I can see them shut down for at least a week.  While this may not result in actual rationing, expect the price to go high enough so people will not be able to continue keeping their tanks full and eventually diminish the demand to the point where the remaining refineries (as well as anything that can be exported to the US) can keep up with our thirst for gasoline.

From the news reports I could find earlier this afternoon, it seemed like NC was about the only area seeing the run on gas.  Later reports tonight have more states, like AL, KY, FL and TN experiencing the same gas panic.  Maybe by this time Sunday night we’ll have a better idea of the damage to the refineries and how the gas flow will be affected.  Better buckle up, as it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

Ike Getting Ready to make Landfall

Ike Getting Ready to make Landfall

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