Friday, September 12, 2008

Panic in South Carolina


Last night as DH and I were driving the children to a swim meet, we became aware of a very odd thing. Cars were beginning to line up at the gas stations, congesting lanes of traffic for several blocks. We realized something out-of-the-ordinary was happening, and we turned on the radio to discover what it was. A local station was loudly advising people not to panic. A rumor had been started, the announcer said, that gas prices were going up to $5.00 a gallon by 5:00 pm. This was not true, the DJ insisted. "Don't text anyone, don't top off your tank," he told his listeners. But as we drove along the panic became worse. I have not seen such a thing since the '70's when there were widespread oil shortages. Every person in the city must have been at the gas pumps. It was impossible to drive anywhere. You would get past one gas station and immediately be placed in the queue for the next one down the road.

This morning it's a lot calmer, but gas prices have gone up. The station closest to us has raised its prices by 10 cents a gallon. Because Hurricane Ike is headed straight for Texas, the nation's biggest complex of refineries and petrochemical plants, people are worried. The upper Texas coast accounts for one-fifth of U.S. refining capacity. I hear that some service stations in the Southeast are limiting customers to 10 gallons of gas during the weekend to guard against running out.

What are gas prices in your area? Ours have risen to $3.75 but I think this may be low compared to many states. Are you seeing the same kind of panic we are? Are Mormons better prepared for this type of emergency than their neighbors? Does this post make you want to go out and fill up your car?

14 comments:

ixoj said...

It does make me want to go fill up my tank...but luckily my scooter gets about 70 mpg, so it's usually only about $7 every 2 weeks. And that I can handle.

Bored in Vernal said...

Good for you! Anybody else out there switching to scooters, bikes, or public transit?

lma said...

I drove by the station I usually go to a couple of hours ago, and prices were actually down by about three cents a gallon.

The thing is, what had gone up to $5 per gallon in some areas was the wholesale price of gas, what the distributors charge the retailers. This does not mean, necessarily, that the retail prices will go up that much...although that seems a bit counterintuitive.

The thing is, demand is down by quite a bit (in the latest month data is available for, June, fuel demand in the US was down by nearly 6 percent over the same period last year), and many retailers won't raise prices much, if at all, for fear that demand will decline even further.

Also, a lot of the reason that wholesale prices have gone up is anticipation that Ike could do serious damage to all those refineries in Texas. And he could. But if he doesn't, those wholesale prices will go right back down.

So, yes, prices could rise if there is extensive damage from the hurricane and some of the refineries have to be closed for weeks or months, as they were after Katrina. But they might not, even if there is some damage but not as much as in the worst-case scenario.

Sorry for the mini-lecture, but I have to follow this stuff as part of my work and it's almost all I've been writing about for the past week.

Oh, and your question about switching forms of transport...not yet, because it's too hot here still. But once the weather cools off a little bit, I'm definitely taking the bus more.

Mose said...

My prices havn't been as high as 3.75, but they've hovered around 3.50 for awhile.

What kind of radio announcer announces $5 gas?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious why you would ask this question:

"Are Mormons better prepared for this type of emergency than their neighbors?"

What would make Mormons better prepared? That's kind of an elitist attitude.

Bored in Vernal said...

Anonymous, Thank you for visiting my blog. Please include a name or pseudonym when you comment!

Mormons are urged by their church leaders to prepare for emergencies, keeping both a year's supply of food and necessities, as well as a 72-hour emergency kit always at hand. My question was directed toward discovering if Mormons are as well prepared for emergencies such as gas shortages as they are taught to be for natural disasters.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for not leaving a name or pseudonym. To be consistent, I will call myself "Ladybug."

As far as wondering if "Mormons are as well prepared for emergencies such as gas shortages," I think that question can be presented to everyone, not just Mormons. Gas shortages impact all of us. Storing gasoline is very dangerous, so that should be crossed off the list of preparation for shortages.

I did some research on how to be prepared for gas shortages and found some helpful articles here:

http://www.ehow.com/topic_216_save-on-gas.html

Here is another helpful article:

http://www.mormonchic.com/dealdiva/gasoline.asp

Your singling out "Mormons" struck me as odd since, as I said, gas shortages would affect everyone. I do not think Mormons have received any specific instructions on the subject.

The Faithful Dissident said...

We're paying $11+ USD per gallon here in Norway. Nothing new. You guys need to relax. :)

JayFlow22 said...

I'm in the Gulf Coast, Texas area...and our gas is $3.70 or so a gallon. I've heard the rumors, but I don't see any gas-outages in my town.

Bored in Vernal said...

Great hints, Ladybug.

FD, I don't know how you get anywhere!

JayFlow, Hope things are OK for you in your neighborhood. At least your gas hasn't gone up. Today the station I frequent went up again, to $3.99! I thought surely the prices would go back down after the weekend, but here they are up again. Maybe I will start to panic!

The Faithful Dissident said...

Yesterday we set a new record. Filled up our Mitsubishi Carisma for $104 USD. Ouch. The USD has strengthened slightly, so the current gas price is actually closer to around $9.00 USD per gallon. So that's not so bad. :)

Actually, we shouldn't complain because Norwegian wages are higher than other European countries, but the price of gas is almost the same. England and Germany pay almost the same price per litre as we do, but the average person there doesn't make as much as they would in Norway. So even though we have probably the highest gas prices in the world, it doesn't really hurt us as bad as other nations.

Europeans also drive smaller cars, which North Americans are perhaps finally starting to be more open to. I saw a Hummer here last weekend, but it's such a rarity. (Whenever I'm back home in Canada for a visit, the cars seem sooooo big. :) We pay a fortune for cars as well. Some friends of ours were thinking about buying a new Dodge Journey and had an offer of just under $70,000 USD. They thought it was a little much, so they settled for a Toyota Avensis at around $55,000 USD. We paid around $28,000 USD for our used, 5 year-old Mitsubishi a few years ago.

But actually, despite the crazy prices, I think it's good that cars and gas aren't too cheap. It makes you think twice about driving just anywhere for no good reason or buying multiple cars when you don't really need them.

Hoopla said...

Gas in East Tennessee hit $4.999 per gallon over the weekend. A few stations were actually up to $5.159 for regular.

This morning, some stations were down to $4.499, but most haven't lowered their prices at all. Many stations ran out of gas Friday afternoon. I filled up Friday morning for $3.729 per gallon... by 1 p.m. it was 4.459 and just continued to increase from there.

David Littlefield said...

Hey you folks in South Carolina!

Please keep an eye out for an Elder Littlefield walking your streets!

Thanks,

-David Littlefield

Bored in Vernal said...

We sure will! Let us know if he comes to Summerville and we will have him for dinner.