Expert: ‘Panic Purchases’ Producing Gas Shortages, Not Actual Shortage

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A gas shortage. Is it real, or consumer created out of concern?

For North Texans headed into the holiday weekend, it may not matter either way. And a “run on the tank” looks a lot like a “run on the bank” when customers start to panic, making a beeline for the nearest gas station.

But people’s frenzied gas runs are causing lines that are creating a shortage, according to oil and gas specialist Bernard Weinstein – not an actual shortage.

“Many stations are out of product because people have panicked,” says Weinstein of SMU’s Maguire Energy Institute. “So everybody with half a tank is filing up, creating lines, and draining tanks at gas stations.”

Tropical Storm Harvey knocked the country’s two largest oil refineries offline, hampering the transport of fuel to gas stations and pummeling oil production as a result. But Weinstein says there’s no need for what he calls “panic purchases.”

“Right now there’s a a limited supply of product, but I don’t think this is a long term problem,” he said. “I think this so-called shortage will be gone by mid next week.”

The head of the Texas agency that regulates the oil and gas industry is urging people to wait three or four days to fill their cars and trucks with gasoline if they can.

Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton said Thursday that people are panicking and that’s causing a run on gas and empty fuel pumps.

He says there is plenty of gas in Houston and elsewhere, but there are logistical problems of making sure all of the stations are getting it. Additionally, Sitton says he doesn’t think it will be an issue a week from now as long as people stay calm and fill up their tanks as they normally would.

QuikTrip will begin limiting gas sales at its North Texas stores before the end of the week. Company spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said that they are now working to identify which stores will not sell any gas.

Several drivers have already reported stations out of gas, and others are waiting in long lines for their chance to fill up.

The Keller Police Department tweeted the following list to help drivers looking to fill-up.

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