The Fuel Shortage That Is and Is Not

 

Colonial Pipeline InfoColonial Pipeline announced Wednesday, May 12, that they had initiated pipeline restart and that complete service restoration over their entire pipeline network would take several days. This signals the near-term end to the regional fuel distribution disruption triggered May 7, when a ransomware attack was detected and the corporation shut down their multi-fuel pipeline system. However, there will continue to be gas stations with empty storage tanks for the next several days, perhaps for the next week. And. There is no fuel shortage at the system/regional level. There is a real shortage and there is no shortage. Both are true. I explain.

Background

While unstated, Colonial acted to prevent potential catastrophic sabotage, in the form of massive breaks in the pipeline or damage to pump systems along the pipeline. They had dealt last summer with a gasoline spill in Huntersville, NC. Colonial did exactly the right thing.

National and local media reported a cyberattack and listed all the states fed by the pipeline system. State declarations of emergency swiftly followed, as prudent precautionary steps to unlock statutory authorities that might be needed if supplies actually hit critical low levels. The news naturally cued the public to quickly top off their cars and trucks.

Normal consumer behavior is to rush out and fill up if you think there might be a shortage or big price hike. Hence the retail tanks emptied. This generates great visuals and very easy news copy. At the same time, we were getting some stories saying that there really was no great shortage. While the New York Times is a shameless leftist propaganda rag, the broken clock got it at least partially right, showing a good visual of a large fuel storage tank farm, a large cluster of huge above-ground storage tanks.

How Pipelines Work (Thumbnail Sketch)

I looked for a clear illustration but ended up falling back on one I knew from my days in Army liquid logistics. Here is a simple diagram of a fuel distribution system, starting from ocean tankers and ending in retail operations, fueling all manner of equipment. It works for purposes of explaining what is happening with Colonial.

Pipeline

Fuel comes from refineries. We do not need tanker ships to carry refined fuel products around most of the continental United States. So, the start point is a refinery with large storage tanks buffering the flow of product. See the six cylinders just in-shore from the fuel tanker ship for comparison. Pipelines only work with constant pressure, constant flow rate. A section of pipe is either full or empty, not partially filled with a trickle sloshing around in the bottom of the pipe. You achieve operational status by having enough at the beginning of any given section to keep the pipeline filled while flowing at a particular speed. Booster pumps along the system help keep the flow rate correct.

In addition to booster pump systems along the pipeline, you need large storage tank systems for two purposes. First, you want a buffer, an ability to keep sections operational if other sections are offline for any reason. So, big storage tank systems at each end of a section of pipeline let you maintain full pipes, capturing the volume for a certain time or feeding volume back into the pipeline if needed further down the line.

Eventually, you get to a terminal storage point, the end of the pipeline or pipeline branch. From such a terminal, or from an intermediate/ branching terminal, you can start running truck or rail tanker car operations to larger and smaller customers with larger or smaller storage tanks, until you get to retail operations, dispensing fuel from small storage tanks or even the tanker truck trailers. From your perspective, this is the big tanker truck pulling up to your local gas station or convenience store, attaching hoses to ports going into the ground, while you plug a small nozzle from the station pump into your vehicle.

To add one more detail, the same pipe carries multiple fuel types. You flow one fuel type on a timed schedule, then you mark a buffer segment, an interface or “transmix” you would not use, followed by the next fuel type for a certain time, and so on. You can do all of this manually, but it certainly helps to have the controls and sensors networked and responding to a computerized program, rather than a clock/stopwatch and timetable. You can even run internal maintenance, injecting a “pig” into the pipeline to scour the internal walls for a certain segment. Colonial runs gasoline, diesel, and commercial jet fuel through its pipeline system. Here is Colonial’s illustration of multiple fuels flowing in one pipeline:

pipeline multiple fuels

Shortage and No Shortage

Thinking this through, you can see that shortages at the retail pump do not equal shortages at the terminal storage tank farms. There are a limited number of qualified fuel tanker truck drivers and currently certified fuel tanker trailers. Empty the retail storage and it takes a while to refill, operating within safety regulations including driver hours. By the time the retail tanks are refilled, we should be hearing that the pipelines are back to full capacity, refilling the large pipeline terminal storage tanks. That should end the run on gas at the pump. Presumably, fuel products have been stacking up at the terminal storage between refineries and the pipeline system. We have not heard that refineries had to shut down because they could not push product out any longer. That would be a sign of actual disruption at the regional or national level.

Published in Technology
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  1. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    A great explanation, CAB, thanks. 

    • #1
  2. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    I’m in NC. This morning about 50% of the local  gas stations were out of gas when I drove this morning. On the news this evening it was 70% of the local stations were out of gas. 

    • #2
  3. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    I just want to be able to go to the OBX on Sunday. We didn’t get to go last year because of the rona. I hope this won’t stop us this year. Dang it!

    • #3
  4. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the news gave facts rather than foam? Too few clicks, no doubt. Thanks for the facts. 

    • #4
  5. La Tapada Member
    La Tapada
    @LaTapada

    This! This is the kind of article and information I have been looking for in the regular news sources. Did I find it? No. I had to come to Ricochet for it. Thank you, C.A.B.

    @blondie, I do hope you get to go to the OBX. I would be terribly disappointed if I were in your shoes and couldn’t go.

    • #5
  6. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Great post, Clifford. Thanks!

    • #6
  7. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Fantastic post Clifford.  Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off.  In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline.  The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line.  I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    • #7
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I blame Biden. He is President it is on his watch. 

    • #8
  9. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Blondie (View Comment):

    I just want to be able to go to the OBX on Sunday. We didn’t get to go last year because of the rona. I hope this won’t stop us this year. Dang it!

    We’re supposed to go on Monday the 24th. Hoping this is cleaned up by then.

    • #9
  10. Weeping Member
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    Clifford A. Brown: Normal consumer behavior is to rush out and fill up if you think there might be a shortage or big price hike. Hence the retail tanks emptied.

    Tanks and grocery bags apparently. It can get really crazy.

    • #10
  11. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    When the lead story on every newscast is lines at the pumps or empty stations, it creates panic no matter the real situation. This is where most news media is at its worst.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Normal consumer behavior is to rush out and fill up if you think there might be a shortage or big price hike. Hence the retail tanks emptied.

    Tanks and grocery bags apparently. It can get really crazy.

    So many of the grocery bags I get from stores have holes in them…. yikes….

    • #12
  13. Weeping Member
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Normal consumer behavior is to rush out and fill up if you think there might be a shortage or big price hike. Hence the retail tanks emptied.

    Tanks and grocery bags apparently. It can get really crazy.

    So many of the grocery bags I get from stores have holes in them…. yikes….

    My husband showed me a couple of videos he ran across on Twitter showing people filling up what looked like plastic grocery bags. Like I said it was crazy. Even if the bags didn’t have holes in them, how in the world do you plan to get the gasoline from the grocery bag into your car????? (The fuel tank, I mean – not all over the insides.)

     

    • #13
  14. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    • #14
  15. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    As long as it never negatively impacts bourbon production, I can live with this.

    • #15
  16. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    As long as it never negatively impacts bourbon production, I can live with this.

    Well of course, anything that gets aged, you won’t necessarily find out about these problems until YEARS after they happened.

    • #16
  17. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    Oh, Good Lord, the stuff of nightmares!

    • #17
  18. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    As long as it never negatively impacts bourbon production, I can live with this.

    It might not be a bad idea to call up Jim Beam and make sure their security is up to snuff…

    • #18
  19. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    As long as it never negatively impacts bourbon production, I can live with this.

    It might not be a bad idea to call up Jim Beam and make sure their security is up to snuff…

    Fortunately I don’t think wood barrels/casks are wifi/bluetooth-enabled, at least not yet.

    • #19
  20. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    As long as it never negatively impacts bourbon production, I can live with this.

    It might not be a bad idea to call up Jim Beam and make sure their security is up to snuff…

    I think I will just stock up. I don’t drink it (much) faster just because I have a lot of it.

    • #20
  21. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    As long as it never negatively impacts bourbon production, I can live with this.

    It might not be a bad idea to call up Jim Beam and make sure their security is up to snuff…

    I think I will just stock up. I don’t drink it (much) faster just because I have a lot of it.

    Interesting, that’s the same reason I’ve been stocking up on toilet paper. :-)

    (well, not drinking…. but using…)

    • #21
  22. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    As long as it never negatively impacts bourbon production, I can live with this.

    It might not be a bad idea to call up Jim Beam and make sure their security is up to snuff…

    I think I will just stock up. I don’t drink it (much) faster just because I have a lot of it.

    Interesting, that’s the same reason I’ve been stocking up on toilet paper. :-)

    (well, not drinking…. but using…)

    My priorities might be different from yours.

    Not better. Just different.

    • #22
  23. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Fantastic post Clifford. Of course, when it comes to the word “shortage”, all bets are off. In neighboring West Virginia, there are long lines at the pump even though the state gets its fuel from the Plantation Pipeline. The situation was getting so bad that the governor had to hold a special news conference to attempt to alleviate the situation:

    https://www.wsaz.com/2021/05/12/wva-governor-says-we-are-creating-our-own-fuel-shortage/

    I hope that the Coors Brewery doesn’t go off-line. I can’t stand to wait in line for a six-pack.

    Yes. Of course, that is exactly what Coors did, when they were taken down by a network attack in March 2021. This took production of several brands offline for some time.

    As long as it never negatively impacts bourbon production, I can live with this.

    It might not be a bad idea to call up Jim Beam and make sure their security is up to snuff…

    I think I will just stock up. I don’t drink it (much) faster just because I have a lot of it.

    Interesting, that’s the same reason I’ve been stocking up on toilet paper. :-)

    (well, not drinking…. but using…)

    My priorities might be different from yours.

    Not better. Just different.

    Well, I’ve had ulcerative colitis for 32 years, so that might be part of it.  But in reality, I saw people selling TP for like $30/4-rolls about this time last year;  I don’t remember anything like that for bourbon.

    • #23
  24. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I’m in NC. This morning about 50% of the local gas stations were out of gas when I drove this morning. On the news this evening it was 70% of the local stations were out of gas.

    That makes perfect sense. Gas stations have very limited storage capacity. If they all see a spike in business, the wholesalers cannot keep up with resupply. The number of qualified tanker truck drivers per local area is effectively fixed for any relevant time period, likewise currently certified tanker trailers. If there is a widespread run on local stations, there is no way to immediately resupply. 

    And.

    Hannity and Ingraham and . . . are spreading ignorance with claims this has something to do with Biden. It does not. 

    And. 

    The state and national executives could and should have shown up immediately on camera with the following:

    Here is the map of large storage tanks nearest you. There are X days of supply in these tanks. The estimated time for the Colonial Pipeline to get back up to full operation is X-N days, so there is absolutely no danger of any state actually running out of any kind of fuel.

    If everyone runs out and fills up their cars and trucks today, their local gas station will run out, and the local fuel truck drivers will not be able to immediately fill those stations back up. If everyone just goes to the gas station when they need to fill up, as usual, there will be no lines, and your local station will not run out.

    Again, you do not get your gas directly from any pipeline. You get it from massive storage tanks that are full of fuel for at least X days worth of demand. We are working closely with all pipeline operators to prevent the next attack on our infrastructure.

    • #24
  25. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I’m in NC. This morning about 50% of the local gas stations were out of gas when I drove this morning. On the news this evening it was 70% of the local stations were out of gas.

    That makes perfect sense. Gas stations have very limited storage capacity. If they all see a spike in business, the wholesalers cannot keep up with resupply. The number of qualified tanker truck drivers per local area is effectively fixed for any relevant time period, likewise currently certified tanker trailers. If there is a widespread run on local stations, there is no way to immediately resupply.

    And.

    Hannity and Ingraham and . . . are spreading ignorance with claims this has something to do with Biden. It does not.

    And.

    The state and national executives could and should have shown up immediately on camera with the following:

    Here is the map of large storage tanks nearest you. There are X days of supply in these tanks. The estimated time for the Colonial Pipeline to get back up to full operation is X-N days, so there is absolutely no danger of any state actually running out of any kind of fuel.

    If everyone runs out and fills up their cars and trucks today, their local gas station will run out, and the local fuel truck drivers will not be able to immediately fill those stations back up. If everyone just goes to the gas station when they need to fill up, as usual, there will be no lines, and your local station will not run out.

    Again, you do not get your gas directly from any pipeline. You get it from massive storage tanks that are full of fuel for at least X days worth of demand. We are working closely with all pipeline operators to prevent the next attack on our infrastructure.

    There was – and maybe still is – no guarantee that the large storage tanks would last until the pipeline service was restored to routine levels, and nobody wants to be the last sucker left with an empty tank because they waited until almost empty before going to fill up, as usual.

    • #25
  26. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Meanwhile, my solution:  Rather than alternate days of the week, or last digit of license plate numbers, etc., vehicles with Trump bumper-stickers go to the front of the line.  If there’s anything left, the vehicles with Biden bumper stickers get it.  Because that’s what they voted for.

    • #26
  27. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Normal consumer behavior is to rush out and fill up if you think there might be a shortage or big price hike. Hence the retail tanks emptied.

    Tanks and grocery bags apparently. It can get really crazy.

    Hmmm. It turns out that the video of a woman apparently trying to put gasoline into a plastic grocery bag is from 2019. But it got a million clicks, so who cares about real reality?

    • #27
  28. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I’m in NC. This morning about 50% of the local gas stations were out of gas when I drove this morning. On the news this evening it was 70% of the local stations were out of gas.

    That makes perfect sense. Gas stations have very limited storage capacity. If they all see a spike in business, the wholesalers cannot keep up with resupply. The number of qualified tanker truck drivers per local area is effectively fixed for any relevant time period, likewise currently certified tanker trailers. If there is a widespread run on local stations, there is no way to immediately resupply.

    And.

    Hannity and Ingraham and . . . are spreading ignorance with claims this has something to do with Biden. It does not.

    And.

    The state and national executives could and should have shown up immediately on camera with the following:

    Here is the map of large storage tanks nearest you. There are X days of supply in these tanks. The estimated time for the Colonial Pipeline to get back up to full operation is X-N days, so there is absolutely no danger of any state actually running out of any kind of fuel.

    If everyone runs out and fills up their cars and trucks today, their local gas station will run out, and the local fuel truck drivers will not be able to immediately fill those stations back up. If everyone just goes to the gas station when they need to fill up, as usual, there will be no lines, and your local station will not run out.

    Again, you do not get your gas directly from any pipeline. You get it from massive storage tanks that are full of fuel for at least X days worth of demand. We are working closely with all pipeline operators to prevent the next attack on our infrastructure.

    There was – and maybe still is – no guarantee that the large storage tanks would last until the pipeline service was restored to routine levels, and nobody wants to be the last sucker left with an empty tank because they waited until almost empty before going to fill up, as usual.

    This is why I wrote it is normal consumer behavior. I do not claim that consumers are irrational in this behavior. They have limited information of limited quality/certainty so they make the best decision for themselves under limited certainty.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I’m in NC. This morning about 50% of the local gas stations were out of gas when I drove this morning. On the news this evening it was 70% of the local stations were out of gas.

    That makes perfect sense. Gas stations have very limited storage capacity. If they all see a spike in business, the wholesalers cannot keep up with resupply. The number of qualified tanker truck drivers per local area is effectively fixed for any relevant time period, likewise currently certified tanker trailers. If there is a widespread run on local stations, there is no way to immediately resupply.

    And.

    Hannity and Ingraham and . . . are spreading ignorance with claims this has something to do with Biden. It does not.

    And.

    The state and national executives could and should have shown up immediately on camera with the following:

    Here is the map of large storage tanks nearest you. There are X days of supply in these tanks. The estimated time for the Colonial Pipeline to get back up to full operation is X-N days, so there is absolutely no danger of any state actually running out of any kind of fuel.

    If everyone runs out and fills up their cars and trucks today, their local gas station will run out, and the local fuel truck drivers will not be able to immediately fill those stations back up. If everyone just goes to the gas station when they need to fill up, as usual, there will be no lines, and your local station will not run out.

    Again, you do not get your gas directly from any pipeline. You get it from massive storage tanks that are full of fuel for at least X days worth of demand. We are working closely with all pipeline operators to prevent the next attack on our infrastructure.

    There was – and maybe still is – no guarantee that the large storage tanks would last until the pipeline service was restored to routine levels, and nobody wants to be the last sucker left with an empty tank because they waited until almost empty before going to fill up, as usual.

    This is why I wrote it is normal consumer behavior. I do not claim that consumers are irrational in this behavior. They have limited information of limited quality/certainty so they make the best decision for themselves under limited certainty.

    Yes, which means that people would be hoping that announcement from the executives fools everybody else, so that THEY can get gas whenever they want to.

    • #29
  30. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I’m in NC. This morning about 50% of the local gas stations were out of gas when I drove this morning. On the news this evening it was 70% of the local stations were out of gas.

    That makes perfect sense. Gas stations have very limited storage capacity. If they all see a spike in business, the wholesalers cannot keep up with resupply. The number of qualified tanker truck drivers per local area is effectively fixed for any relevant time period, likewise currently certified tanker trailers. If there is a widespread run on local stations, there is no way to immediately resupply.

    And.

    Hannity and Ingraham and . . . are spreading ignorance with claims this has something to do with Biden. It does not.

    And.

    The state and national executives could and should have shown up immediately on camera with the following:

    Here is the map of large storage tanks nearest you. There are X days of supply in these tanks. The estimated time for the Colonial Pipeline to get back up to full operation is X-N days, so there is absolutely no danger of any state actually running out of any kind of fuel.

    If everyone runs out and fills up their cars and trucks today, their local gas station will run out, and the local fuel truck drivers will not be able to immediately fill those stations back up. If everyone just goes to the gas station when they need to fill up, as usual, there will be no lines, and your local station will not run out.

    Again, you do not get your gas directly from any pipeline. You get it from massive storage tanks that are full of fuel for at least X days worth of demand. We are working closely with all pipeline operators to prevent the next attack on our infrastructure.

    True; the hack of Colonial’s system was, in no way, Biden’s fault.  However, his stammering explanation that the ultimate remedy is to spend more money for education (so that would-be students can be super cyber-security experts) was embarrassing.

    • #30