AP: Railroad Commissioner says there's plenty of gas, but urges Texans to wait to fill tanks
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - The head of the Texas agency that regulates the oil and gas industry is urging people to wait three or four days to fill their cars and trucks with gasoline if they can.
Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton said Thursday that people are panicking and that's causing a run on gas and empty fuel pumps.
He says there is plenty of gas in Houston and elsewhere, but there are logistical problems of making sure all of the stations are getting it.
He says he doesn't think it will be an issue a week from now as long as people stay calm and fill up their tanks as they normally would.
Filling fuel tanks is becoming increasingly difficult in parts of Texas where some stations were out of gas and pump costs have risen steeply.
In Dallas, lines of cars a block long were common for the few gas stations that had gasoline to sell Thursday. The scene was reminiscent of the gas lines seen during the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s.
One Chevron station in downtown Dallas that sold regular gas for $2.29 a gallon just before the storm was charging $2.99 on Thursday. Others charged well over $3, and one downtown Shell station charged $3.97 for a regular gallon of gas. At three gas stations in north Dallas, yellow bags or caution tape was wrapped around pumps just after noon.
The supply crunch prompted QuikTrip, one of the nation's largest convenience store chains, to temporarily halt gasoline sales at about half its 135 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Instead, gasoline deliveries are going to designated stores across all parts of the metro area, QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said.
The Texas attorney general's office said anyone seeing gas prices of $4 or higher should take pictures and report the stations as price-gouging.
Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton talks about gas situation in Texas
Refinery closures along the Texas coast in the wake of Hurricane Harvey are creating gas shortages in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Multiple news outlets are reporting gas stations running out of gas.
Family members of KTXS employees have reported seeing long lines at pumps that are open. They have also seen some that are closed.
An Exxon in Arlington had a sign on its pump that reads "We are out of gas due to hurricane. Sorry for the inconvenience."
Concerns about the shortage have spilled over into Abilene. Cooper High School is warning fans traveling to Fort Worth for the Cougars' game Friday night at Keller to be aware.
"Cougar Nation: We just got word that there is a gas shortage in the Metroplex area. So please plan accordingly if you are attending the games."
Meanwhile, QuickTrip -- one of the nation's largest convenience store chains -- plans to stop selling gasoline at about half of its 135 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as it anticipates shortages.
QuickTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh told The Associated Press on Thursday that the company will direct gasoline deliveries to half of its stores, and intends to have stores with gas in all parts of the metro area. All stores will remain open, though only half will have gasoline.
The company is enacting its plan after several major refineries and a key gasoline pipeline shut down after Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast.
Oklahoma-based QuickTrip enacted a similar plan last year in metro Atlanta, where it has about 133 stores, when the Colonial Pipeline closed due to a leak in Alabama.
Heading into the Labor Day weekend, the average price for a gallon of gas in Texas is $2.25, according to AAA.
In Abilene, gas prices range from $2.13 to $2.49 per gallon.
In Dallas, the price is up 18-cents per gallon over the past week to $2.37.
The record high average in Texas was $3.98 in July 2008.