Updated: Refineries shut down due to Hurricane Harvey, causing gas prices to increase and fuel availability to diminish

Tom Thumb at FM 3040 and Valley Pkwy was out of unleaded gasoline Wednesday afternoon.

This post has been updated below with additional information regarding outages.

As of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, 10 refineries were shut down along the Gulf Coast of Texas due to Hurricane Harvey.  Together, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, those refineries account for 31.7 percent of the capacity for the six-state PADD 3 district that includes Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

With supply disrupted and consumers nervous, some local motorists are beginning to see some stations running out of gas. Taiquann Dorsey wasn’t able to find a station with gas in Carrollton, where he lives, forcing him to search in Plano, Flower Mound and finally Lewisville to fill his tank.

“I really hope that we get help, Federal help or anything like that, get reserves that are in other states,” said Dorsey, who discovered the scarcity this morning. “In Texas you have to drive everywhere, so if we’re having a shortage of gas, that’s a problem.”

(Photo by Steve Southwell)

According to some distributors, consumer fears may be unfounded.

Douglass Distributing, which provides gasoline to stations such as Exxon, Mobil, Shell and Valero, released a statement on Facebook that said supplies are not low but the lines for delivery trucks to retrieve fuel are long because of the shut-down refineries.

“We ask all of our neighbors make fuel purchases as you normally would – the worst thing we can do as a community is all of us showing up at one time to get fuel. This is creating an additional challenge for each delivery,” the statement read. “We do not expect the shortage to last any longer than 1 week.”

Average prices for regular unleaded gasoline in the DFW area were up about 17 cents from last week to a local average of $2.35 today, according to Gas Buddy.  Most local stations The Lewisville Texan Journal checked Wednesday afternoon were at $2.39. The QT at SH 121 Business and Southwest Parkway is one of the few stations left with gas and as of 10 a.m. Thursday its regular unleaded was $2.50.

QT staff directed drivers into and out of its parking lot at the entrances. While the pumps would open up quickly this morning, the influx of cars crowded the lot making it difficult to maneuver through.

Some of the drivers filled up gasoline containers in addition to their vehicle’s tanks. Lawncare workers filled up multiple riding lawnmowers.

Osie Harris was instructed by his boss at Rent-A-Center to fill up all the 121 location’s trucks. Harris said he doesn’t have any concerns with the situation other than for everyone’s safety, referencing fights over fuel he heard of in Dallas.

Otherwise he sees this as beneficial for those making a profit and compared it to the frenzy of Y2K, when people thought the new millennium would bring technological havoc.

“Everybody was out buying water and upgrading electronics and everything else, then nothing,” he said laughing.

Austin Bosch said he noticed many stations were closed as he was driving for Uber before he decided he should find a station. He went down FM 3040 to Morris and made a circuit around the area before making his way to QT.

“This [Labor Day] weekend’s going to be big so I’m worried… I need gas for work, for both my jobs,” said Bosch, who also delivers pizza for Domino’s.

7-11 at FM 407 and Garden Ridge was out of regular and plus grades.

Bosch said he wondered if this would lead to gas rationing.

The refineries affected are 16.6 percent of the total U.S. refining capacity.  In addition to that, about 18.5 percent of oil production in the gulf is currently shut in.  

Six of the 10 refineries were in the process of restarting, but the DOE said the process could take several days or weeks depending on whether they had been damaged.

The following ports were closed as of Wednesday afternoon:  Corpus Christi, Freeport, Galveston, Houston, Texas City, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Nederland, Orange, Port Arthur, Port Neches, and Sabine Pass.  Brownsville is open, and Corpus Christi is reopening portions of the inner harbor.

In order to ease supply problems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued waivers on certain fuel standards meant to reduce emissions.

In Lewisville Wednesday afternoon, most consumers reported being able to find gasoline. By Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the situation was much worse.

The following stations were reported as of Thursday afternoon to be out of one or more grades of gasoline:

  • Tom Thumb at the corner of FM 3040 and Valley Pkwy is completely out of gas.
  • Murphy USA at Walmart on FM 3040 is out of premium and mid-grade gasoline.
  • Sam’s Club on Main Street, whose shipments come from Houston, ran out of regular unleaded earlier Wednesday but long lines were reported after a tanker arrived. It opened today but has since reported being out again and does not know when more gasoline will arrive.
  • QuikTrip on FM 407 reported being out of gas. A picture of their sign showed $0.00 as the price. QuikTrip has a list of stations that DO have gas.
  • RaceTrac on FM 3040 only had regular gasoline left on Thursday night.  Note:  RaceTrac has an online list of what is available at its locations.
  • QuikTrip on SH 121 at Main Street was out of regular and mid-grade unleaded but had some premium left.  The store clerk said it could be a couple weeks before another load arrives.
  • 7-Eleven on FM 407 at Garden Ridge was out of regular and plus grades as of just after midnight Thursday morning.
  • QuikTrip on FM 3040 near Ace Lane was completely out of gas Thursday morning at 8 a.m.
Cars lined up into the street at around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night at QT on SH 121 Business and Southwest Parkway.

Other status updates:

  • QuikTrip on SH 121 at Southwest Pkwy had brisk business as of 10 a.m. Thursday morning. Cars lined up into the street at points.  By Thursday night, the line stretched down Southwest Parkway past Misty Lane. Attendants manned the two entrances and were only letting cars in from Southwest Parkway.
  • McGee’s at FM 407 at McGee had run out of regular and plus grades but was refueled just after midnight Thursday morning.
  • 7-Eleven at Corporate and 121 was refilled around 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
  • Gas stations with gas Thursday night had lines that stretched into the streets.

To track which stations near you have gas, go to tracker.gasbuddy.com.  Readers are sharing their experiences on Facebook, which is likely to have more up-to-date information.

The Cross Timbers Gazette reported outages in Flower Mound, Lantana, and Highland Village.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that half of QT stations may stop selling gas over the weekend.

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