Gasbuddy on gas shortages growing across the country

Gasbuddy's Patrick De Haan on the growing gas shortages across the country.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: One of the things that is driving all of this is the anxiety over gasoline and that issue with that Colonial Pipeline. Let's talk about this with Patrick De Haan. He is the GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis. And Patrick, it's good to have you here. When we hear that they're going to slowly get this pipeline back into operation, what do you think we, as gas buyers, consumers, need to know? Because in Florida, as I understand it, they don't even get fuel from this pipeline. And yet, they have shortages in Florida.

PATRICK DE HAAN: Yeah, you know, there are some challenges in northern Florida. And I think that's because, as you said, most of the state actually gets it via barge. Florida, obviously, has a lot of ports that are accessible. But the northern half of the state, Tallahassee to Gainesville, Pensacola, get gasoline from a spur. There you see a graphic. That spur, running down to southern Georgia, feeds extreme northern Florida. And so they're seeing outages there.

But looking at that map, the epicenter of these outages is really around Atlanta, Charlotte, the Carolinas, into Eastern Alabama. Those are kind of the no man's land. You'll notice they're right in the middle of the pipeline. The ends of the pipeline, Houston up into New York, as you get closer to New Jersey, there's more options for resupply, whereas in the middle of the pipeline, you're in the midst of two different regions. So there aren't any great answers. And that's why the middle of those two regions are seeing the most outages.

Now, a lot of this, too, is the fact that motorists have decided to hoard gasoline and, in some cases, are starting to panic. There is still gasoline in a lot of these markets that stations don't have it. Now it's become a race to refuel. And of course, that's where the trucker shortage comes in. It's just impossible to see the amount of trucks replenish after motorists have increased their demand to fill up because of the panic.

SEANA SMITH: Hey, Patrick, some of the numbers that you guys have that you're closely tracking, 65% of North Carolina stations are empty, 40% of Georgia's, 40% of South Carolina's. Talk to us just about how possible-- is it possible that these stations could actually go dry before all of this is over?

PATRICK DE HAAN: Well, many of them have obviously done that. Even to enhance your numbers there, kind of looking at my latest, 67% in North Carolina, now 45% in Georgia, 43% in South Carolina. It's all the way up to DC now that we're seeing these outages. And a lot of this now is not so much the Colonial. It's the fact that motorists are going out there with every jerrycan they can find. And that's increasing demand 40%. Even if the Colonial Pipeline was operating, this would strain the system and lead to outages.

ADAM SHAPIRO: So, as a child of the 1980s, actually the '70s, too, I remember gas lines [INAUDIBLE] my grandma '78 Buick, trying to fill up in the early '80s. Are we going to get that kind of situation, where they might even say odd number plates on one day, even number plates on another day?

PATRICK DE HAAN: Well, you know, this whole situation has spiraled out of control, where you think maybe authorities should jump in. But the good news is the pipeline is supposedly back online later this week. Gasoline is still in the pipeline, keep in mind. So once the pipeline is restarted, that gasoline will start trickling back out. But it will be a challenge to resupply these stations.

Like I said, I think the kink in the chain now is not the Colonial Pipeline, but getting that fuel delivered to those stations. There's just not enough truckers. There's not enough capacity for those trucks to all fill up at the same time. So that's really it. I mean, thankfully, this is not a production issue. Refineries haven't gone down, although in a kind of a twist of fate, refineries had to slow down because there's no offtake from the colonial pipeline. So that's kind of the bigger portion is this-- it's a supply event, not a pricing event, because production is not impacted yet.

SEANA SMITH: Well, Patrick, I mean, just give us a timeline, then, of when we could expect some of this supply crunch to begin to ease.

PATRICK DE HAAN: Well, you know, I think, for me, I think as a motorist, when are you going to stop having to figure this out? When can you pull into a station, and it probably will have fuel? It could be a couple of weeks. You'll start to see things moving again later this weekend, early next week. The tides will start to turn. People will start to calm down once they realize the pipeline is reopened.

But then it will still take, like I said, two to three weeks to get fully back to normal. It's kind of a game of whack-a-mole right now, right, where stations fill up their inventories. Their people then start decimating that inventory. And then it just rotates around. And I don't think that that's going to stop for a week, maybe two weeks, and then fully back to normal in three to four weeks.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Ugh, I'm thinking about Memorial Day weekend. Three to four weeks would be afterwards. So, fingers crossed. We appreciate your insight.