Over the past couple of weeks we continue to deal with the fallout from Hurricane Harvey. As a railroad commissioner the particular role I play is helping the state and the citizens of the state monitor the impacts to the oil and gas infrastructure. Many of you around the state of Texas probably noticed as fears about gasoline shortages gripped regions from Dallas, Fort Worth to San Antonio and all the way down to the Rio Grande Valley.
What it shows us is two things. First that there is so much complexity in the oil and gas industry that people just aren’t aware of. For example, the state of Texas uses, every day, about 1 million barrels of gasoline. However there is more than 60 million barrels of gasoline in storage in our region and over 230 million barrels of gasoline in storage in the United States. The issues or the concerns around gasoline shortages really were not based on actual gasoline shortages. They were based on fears associated with refineries that were shut down.
Yes, there were some refinery outages as a part of the hurricane but those refinery outages were not going to represent sufficient amount of gasoline off the market to cause a shortage of gasoline in the country. While we dealt with logistical issues, moving gasoline from storage facilities and terminals to the gas stations via truck. Fears prompted runs on gas stations. People who went to gas stations in every car they could find, even carrying spare gas tanks, water jugs and barrels to hoard and store gasoline in their garage.
One thing everybody should know, even if the hurricane had never happened, when there are runs on gas stations and people hoarding gas in their house, this phenomenon of running out of gas at gas stations can still happen. The last takeaway that we should have from this event is that despite the largest geographic footprint of any man, of any natural disaster. The impact to oil and gas were actually, relatively minor. All of the refineries are starting up now, pipelines are back in service, in the long term impacts appear to be negligible. What we hope this will mean or hope this tells us, is that the infrastructure in the United States when it comes to oil and gas is very robust. And it demonstrates why we continue to be leaders in energy around the globe.
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Ryan Sitton is a native Texan who grew up in the Irving area. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Ryan founded PinnacleAIS, an engineering and technology company focused on reliability and integrity programs for the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries. He was elected to the Railroad Commission in 2014 to a six-year term. You can read more about Ryan HERE.