A Texas official said Wednesday that supplies of gasoline at stations throughout the state are improving after shortages started last week amid panic buying following Hurricane Harvey.
Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton said any ongoing shortages at some stations likely will be resolved within the next day or two. Several refineries idled by the storm have restarted, he said, although a few remained closed while undergoing inspections. Harvey knocked out more than 20 percent of the nation’s refining capacity along the Gulf Coast.
Sitton said pipelines are all operational again and supply truck companies are working around the clock to get gasoline from terminals to local gas stations.
“We expect that most areas will see gas stations back in operation in the next 24 to 48 hours, with a few pockets around the state possibly extending beyond,” he said.
In Austin, Cary Rabb, owner of the Round Rock-based Wag-A-Bag convenience store chain, said Wednesday that while motorists remain more likely than before Harvey to encounter the occasional empty filling station, “the run [on gas] has stopped.”
Flint Hills Resources, which operates a Corpus Christi refinery that provides the bulk of gasoline dispensed at Austin-area gas stations, “has resumed normal operations,” company spokesman Andy Saenz said Wednesday. The Flint Hills refinery had been shut down since the storm hit, leaving area fuel distributors to tap reserves.
Still, it could be two weeks or more before output from the Gulf Coast’s huge energy complex returns to pre-Harvey levels, according to industry experts.
“We are starting to see things normalize, but there is still a slight disruption in fuel supply distribution,” said Jesus Azanza, a spokesman for the Texas Food and Fuel Association, which represents about 12,000 convenience stores, grocery stores and truck stops that sell gasoline. “That is going to continue to exist until floodwaters recede” and all of the refineries can operate at pre-hurricane capacity again.
The situation is manageable with only minor inconveniences, he and others said, provided motorists buy only the gas they need.
“One of the things every Texan can do to help is to fill up if you need to, but not to hoard fuel which is dangerous and hurts everyone else,” Sitton said.
This article includes information from The Associated Press and the Austin American-Statesman.