Oil unlikely to head back to $100 any time soon
For the first time since Hurricane Harvey submerged much of the state’s energy complex underwater, Texas is being forced to truck in gasoline from other states.
The freeze strained the energy supply chain at nearly every point: upstream crude and natural gas production was paralyzed due to power outages and a lack of winterization, refineries had units trip offline, gasoline stations lost power, and the roads were too treacherous for tanker trucks to deliver fuel.
Hurricane Harvey in the summer 2017, which left much of Southeast Texas without power and flooded refineries, marked the last time Texas had to truck in gasoline, said Paul Hardin, president of the Texas Food & Fuel Association.
This is the second recent fuel shortage in the state that is home to the lion’s share of America’s oil, gasoline, diesel and petrochemical production due to a climate event. While Hurricane Harvey forced flooding and power outages along the coast, last month’s freeze impacted the entire energy grid and is forcing the state’s government to reckon with increasing unpredictability in major weather events.
The Pilot Flying J chain owned by Pilot Travel Centers LLC brought gasoline from Arizona and New Mexico to supply some of its 100 Texas stores. Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores Inc. also has trucked in gasoline for its 75 locations.
The logistics crisis is rippling into the broader oil rally that is being driven by strengthening gasoline demand due to wide vaccine availability and federal stimulus checks. The temporary outage of so many refiners has driven the margins for turning crude into fuel to where they were right before the pandemic shut down the U.S. economy a year ago.
Monday morning 13.8 per cent of stations in the state were not selling fuel, Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for retail tracker GasBuddy, said in an email.
Hardin said he expects that the number of stations selling fuel will be nearly back to normal by Wednesday.