Is there a gas shortage in Florida or are you just panic-pumping? Here’s what to know

·7 min read

Drivers are lining up at some Florida gas stations. You can say there’s a little consumer panic going on, not unlike the toilet paper hoarding of last year.

But this time, the supply crunch is over concern about gas shortages and price hikes after a cyberattack shut down the country’s biggest fuel pipeline.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency this week in response to concerns surrounding the Colonial Pipeline. The disruption “poses a significant and immediate threat to the continued delivery” of Florida’s fuel supply, according to the order.

“This pipeline doesn’t actually touch Florida, but it does feed into many of our gas stations. ... We started lifting restrictions to be able to get more fuel into pumps,” DeSantis said on Fox News.

The pipeline runs from Texas to New York Harbor and delivers about 45% of all fuel in the East Coast, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. However, experts say the reason why some parts of Florida are seeing long lines and gas shortages has more to do with panic buying and hoarding since most of the state’s fuel supply does not come from the Colonial Pipeline.

South Florida’s gas, for example, comes through Port Everglades. And the Bradenton-area supply comes through Port Manatee. In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2020, Port Manatee received 397 million gallons of petroleum products, nearly double what it handled in 2017.

“We do not have an emergency in South Florida as a result of this problem with the pipeline. It does not affect our fuel supply in anyway, not in the Tri-County area at all ... and we have not had any problems receiving our supply through Port Everglades,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

“Stay calm. Do not rush out to the gas stations to buy gas. Only if you rush and hoard will we have a problem,” Levine Cava added.

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However, it hasn’t stopped people from stocking up on fuel just in case.

Here’s what to know about the situation in Florida, including apps and websites you can use to help find fuel if you’re running on empty and need to gas up:

Does Florida have a gasoline shortage?

Most of Florida’s fuel, about 90% of it, flows in through the ports on cargo ships, AAA says. That gasoline is then driven to the pumps on tanker trucks. Some parts of Florida, like Tallahassee and Panama City, do get gas from Bainbridge, Georgia, where Colonial has a supply line, AAA says.
Most of Florida’s fuel, about 90% of it, flows in through the ports on cargo ships, AAA says. That gasoline is then driven to the pumps on tanker trucks. Some parts of Florida, like Tallahassee and Panama City, do get gas from Bainbridge, Georgia, where Colonial has a supply line, AAA says.

Some parts of Florida, including Tallahassee and Panama City, get gas from Bainbridge, Georgia, where Colonial has a supply line. But about 90% of Florida’s fuel flows in through the ports on cargo ships, AAA says. The gasoline is then driven to the pumps on tanker trucks. This means Florida shouldn’t see a gas shortage like other states.

Drivers in Pensacola have reported long lines and outages at gas pumps. So have drivers in Tampa and Central Florida. As of Wednesday afternoon, about 11% of Florida gas stations were out of fuel, according to GasBuddy, an app that helps drivers save money on gas.

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However, it’s likely that several of the reported fuel “shortages” at gas stations in the state were caused by panic buying, said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins.

“That surge in demand is what actually creates the supply issue, since gas stations can only hold so much fuel at a given time. Gasoline is still being made and fuel continues sailing through Florida ports, regardless of whether Colonial Pipeline is operational,” Jenkins said. “It’s now just a matter of getting the fuel where it’s needed, primarily those gas stations that are being tapped out due to panic buying.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, whose office regulates the petroleum industry in Florida, posted a video on Twitter this week asking people to not panic-buy gas, hoard gasoline or form long lines at stations.

She said in a statement that the agency is aware of several issues that could disrupt normal fuel prices and sales in Florida. Those include problems with the Colonial Pipeline that serves North Florida, shortages of truck drivers and a Pensacola-area company that was not able to meet EPA standards on federal gasoline requirements under the Clean Air Act, which must be met annually by May 1.

However, “fuel continues to move around our state,” she said.

Are gas prices rising because of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown?

Florida gas prices haven’t seen any significant increase since the Colonial pipeline was shut down. The state average is $2.89 per gallon, 2 cents more than this time last week and 3 cents less than this year’s highest price of $2.91 per gallon, which was recorded in late March, according to AAA.

Price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal. To report price gouging in Miami-Dade County, call the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Price Gouging Hotline at 305-547-3300.

Florida is in a ‘state of emergency’ because of gas. What does it mean?

Long lines at gasoline stations have been seen in parts of Florida, caused by panic buying amid concerns of gas shortages and price hikes after a cyberattack shut down the country’s biggest fuel pipeline.
Long lines at gasoline stations have been seen in parts of Florida, caused by panic buying amid concerns of gas shortages and price hikes after a cyberattack shut down the country’s biggest fuel pipeline.

Gov. DeSantis’ state of emergency order relaxes restrictions so trucks can refuel affected areas quicker and also lets the Florida National Guard be activated if needed.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said a large part of the Colonial Pipeline resumed operations manually late Monday, with Colonial anticipating restarting most of its operations by the end of the week, The Associated Press reported.

Where can I find gas in Florida?

A man fills several gas tanks in the back of his truck at the Wawa station on First Street in Bradenton on May 12, 2021. Several gas stations in town have run out of gas, but local officials say there’s plenty of fuel arriving at Port Manatee.
A man fills several gas tanks in the back of his truck at the Wawa station on First Street in Bradenton on May 12, 2021. Several gas stations in town have run out of gas, but local officials say there’s plenty of fuel arriving at Port Manatee.



Here are some apps that can help you find gas and possibly save some money, too:

Gasbuddy

Gasbuddy is a free app and website (www.gasbuddy.com) that lets you sort gas stations by a variety of factors including price, distance, fuel type, payment method and ratings. The crowdsourcing app lets users report gas prices in real-time, which can help others find gas, too. It also has an outage map, which lets people report if a station they visited is open, closed or out of fuel.

The app can tell you the average reported gas price in your area, including the lowest and highest cost. It can give directions to gas stations and lists amenities like car washes. It also lets people review and rate the gas stations.

The app had a message early Wednesday saying it was experiencing a surge of people looking for fuel and that it was working to expand capacity. That means the website and app might be a bit slower than usual.

The app can be downloaded via the app store for Apple and Android.

Waze

Waze’s free crowdsourcing app is usually used to find routes with the least amount of traffic in real-time. Users also can give a heads up on where police and troopers are searching for speeding drivers. However, the app can also help people find gas stations near them and whether they have restrooms and parking. The downside? Like other gas apps, sometimes the gas prices listed can be several days old. It all depends on how often users update the prices.

The app can be downloaded via the app store for Apple and Android.

Gas Guru by YellowPages

Gas Guru is run by Yellowpages.com. It not only has gas prices but lets you search for amenities like a car wash. Just like other apps, it provides gas station information, including directions. The app gets its gas station prices from the Oil Price Information Service and not user-entered data. However, the app lets users report inaccurate gas prices. A new feature also lets iPhone users enable Siri to search for nearby gas prices using the app.

The app can be downloaded via the app store for Apple and Android.

GetUpside

As of Wednesday morning, GetUpside lets you compare the gas prices at about 2,151 gas stations in Florida, according to its website. It also has a gas savings program where you can earn cash back on your gas purchases.

If you don’t want to use the website, it has a free app that can be downloaded via the app store for Apple and Android.

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