Ike Closing Refineries + Gas Stations Rationing = PANIC
As Ike closes in, drilling platforms in the gulf have been evacuated, refineries closed and now the Port of Houston is closed. MSNBC reports:
Exxon Mobil, Valero Energy, ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil are among the companies halting operations as the storm closed in. Refineries on the upper Texas coast account for one-fifth of U.S. refining capacity.
In the week prior to landfall the energy and economic impact of Ike began to occur as drilling platforms, oil refineries and chemical plants all ceased operating in preparation for the storm. The Port of Houston is the 2nd largest port in the U.S. and is scheduled to remain closed until Monday. Also halting operation is the Dow Chemical Freeport Complex, which holds 75 chemical plants and produces approximately 27 billion pounds of chemical/chemical products annually. Dow Chemical is closing their 139 acre plant in La Porte as well.
Meanwhile on the east coast a large gas station chain with 1,600 stores spread over 11 states has asked customers to limit their gas purchases to 10 gallons each with signs posted at their stations. Based in Sanford, NC The Pantry includes Kangaroo and Petro Express stations. According to the Chicago Tribune, The Pantry has stores in Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, the Carolinas and Indiana.
The Charlotte Observer reports about The Pantry and their gas rationing signs:
CEO Pete Sodini said the move was precautionary and caused by a large spike in the price of wholesale gasoline and the shutdown of several refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. There was no shortage of gasoline Thursday.
Mr. Sodini went on to say the ration signs were meant to avoid panic buying which could deplete the gas supply unnecessarily in the area. Explaining that if everyone rushes to gas staions and fills up every vehicle in their prospective household, gas supply will run out temporarily.
Sodini said he’s aware that some people might accuse him of creating a panic, but added, “they’ve got to tell me how I win by doing this. … We sacrificed a lot of volume today.”
The Post and Courier Charleston states the signs “did not help” and only succeeded in promoting mild panic as people called, sent text messages and sparked rumors of gas prices and supply. The Post and Courier artcile tells of stations and ration signs in the Carolina’s. This was also happening in Tennessee as I personally received a phone call from a friend in Franklin, Tennessee about a sign posted at a gas station limiting gas purchases to 10 gallons per person.
Energy and Economic impact will take a back seat to the people who will undoubtedly experience the repercussions of Ike’s brutal force. As the hours and days move forward and the aftermath assessed, the long term impact across the country will be discussed again and again. Revisiting offshore drilling, energy independence, our current dependence on foreign oil, alternative energy options and the important election that can influence all of these issues long term.
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Photo Credit: Troy Burwell via Flickr Creative Commons License