Commissioner Ryan Sitton’s Statement Regarding the Status of Texas’ Gasoline Supply in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey Panic Buying

09/06/2017

AUSTIN — Today Commissioner Ryan Sitton released the following statement regarding the status of Texas' gasoline supply in the wake of Hurricane Harvey panic buying:

"Texas' energy infrastructure is recovering quickly from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey. The industry and state and federal governments have worked expeditiously to ensure that citizens' energy needs are met, primarily at the gas pump. As I've said since last week, unfortunately, hoarding and panic buying have placed unnecessary strains on gasoline supplies at pumps in certain pockets of Texas, but the situation continues to improve and will likely be resolved within the next day or two. As a reminder, with 230 million barrels of refined products in storage in the United States, we do not have a gasoline shortage but some areas have experienced outages at gas pumps due to exponentially higher demand than normal as people stockpile fuel.

Several Texas refineries have restarted although a few remain closed as assessments are completed. Pipeline infrastructure including the Magellan, Explorer and Colonial pipelines are all operational again. In response to the rush on gas stations, the industry has moved very rapidly to ensure gasoline gets to pumps. For example, Magellan has resumed delivering gas from its East Houston Terminal into the DFW and West Texas markets and was continuing to supply those areas from its reversed segment with refined products from Oklahoma refineries. Valero has fed additional supply into the DFW market from its Ardmore and McKee refineries and a key pipeline from the Corpus Christi refineries is transporting gasoline to the San Antonio and DFW areas. Other companies continue to have supply trucks working around the clock to get gasoline from terminals to local gas stations. Consumers should remember that the last few miles of the gasoline supply chain requires trucks to take the product from terminals to the pumps. This is not an instantaneous process. It takes time but they are making great progress at refueling stations across the state. 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.

Governor Abbott has taken several steps to address gasoline supply chain issues including allowing out-of-state trucks to fill needs in Texas and the EPA has waived summer gasoline requirements for refiners which will make it easier to get refined products into pipelines quickly. The industry has brought oil and gas production in the Eagle Ford shale and Gulf Coast back online and most, if not all of that production, will be fully restored by weeks end.

Texans should remember that due to safety requirements, one must have a license to sell gasoline. To those buying large volumes of gasoline to turn around and sell at a premium, that is “black market” gasoline sales, and it is a violation of the law. It contributes to the gasoline panic, and I expect it will be fully prosecuted by authorities.

All of Texas is rightly focused on rebuilding the areas directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey and assisting our fellow citizens in 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. This situation will be resolved this week if people purchase gas in a thoughtful and responsible manner."

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Ryan Sitton was elected to the Railroad Commission in 2014 and is the first engineer to serve on the Commission in 50 years. Sitton is one of the world’s leading energy experts and founded PinnacleART, an engineering and technology company focused on reliability and integrity programs for the oil, gas, and petrochemical, mining, pharmaceutical, and wastewater industries. As Railroad Commissioner, Sitton uses his technical expertise and business experience to make decisions for the state that are based on sound science and employs a fiscally conservative approach to prioritize the agency’s efforts.