It is a lack of drivers that are properly licensed and willing to transport fuel that is causing prices to go up. On top of that lowered supply, demand for gas has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
“Overall, the United States is consuming about 20 million barrels of fuel and related chemical products a day. That’s a whole lotta loads going up and down the road,” said Steve Boyd, the senior managing director for Sun Coast Resources Inc.
Fuel demand might have recovered from its pandemic lows, but Boyd told KVEO that the number of available drivers has not.
Low fuel demand during the pandemic caused drivers to turn to other shipping options.
“Whenever they can make the same money doing something that is less stressful and less work, many of them choose to do that. So that’s why there’s a shortage,” said Boyd.
Drivers who transport fuel have to earn extra certifications and need more training than normal freight drivers do. Boyd said that those certifications can add several weeks to the normal training timeline for truck drivers.
On top of requiring HAZMAT transport certification, transporting fuel is also more dangerous for truck drivers, which Boyd said could make them not want to go back to it.
“A lot of the fuel truck drivers say ‘well, I’d rather be driving a FedEx truck or an Amazon truck’, it is a lot safer it is a lot cleaner it is a lot easier,” he said.
In an interview with KXAN, AAA Texas spokesperson Josh Zuber said that the hack of the Colonial pipeline on the east coast would have little impact on fuel availability in Texas. Zuber said that “there is ample supply of gasoline in the U.S.”
That has not stopped people from flocking to gas stations in the Rio Grande Valley. Once there, customers are finding long waits to fill up.
“They say on the east coast there’s no gas over there. So I think people are getting scared and they’re just trying to be prepared for all that,” said Adrian Garcia, who was at a gas station in Donna.
People being worried about a possible shortage is making lines longer, which is making that fear worse. And the people keep coming.
When asked why people were going to the gas station despite there not being a shortage, Garcia said “Right now? Because maybe later it’s going to be worse.”