North Texans fuel long lines at gas stations

Cars line up in front of the 7-Eleven on West Berry Street and South University Drive. (Photo by Shane Battis.)

Some Fort Worth residents are lining up at the pumps as North Texas begins the Labor Day weekend with a limited supply of gasoline.

The dwindling supply is the result of ten South Texas refineries going offline due to disruptions from Harvey. These refineries account for 16 percent of U.S. gasoline production, which totals over 3 million barrels per day.

Several gas stations in Fort Worth say they can’t guarantee they will have gas to supply customers through the weekend. The shrinking gas supply has caused gas prices to go up in the Fort Worth area. Gas prices spiked to an average of $2.40, up from $2.17 earlier this week, according to fuel price tracking website GasBuddy.

At the Exxon on Bellaire Drive, employee Ralph Hudson said their gas prices are at $2.54 and may be expected to continue rising. “With the concerns of gas shortages, customers who have come in have been nervous and I have heard from many customers that some stations don’t have gas,” he said.

Plastic bags covered the majority of the pumps at the Mobil on South University Drive leaving a growing line of cars Thursday afternoon.

Cars packed in Exxon’s parking lot on South University Drive and scrambled to find gas, only to find out that every pump is unavailable and out of gas.

“I live in Fort Worth but I commute two times a week to Denton so if anything, that’s the only thing I’m worried about,” Leah Thornton said. “I’m not really panicking but I didn’t realize it would escalate. I heard on the radio this morning that gas stations were pretty crazy but this is another level. I’m just glad I was able to come here before the rush from after work.”

Another Exxon customer would rather stay away.

“I plan on driving less until this problem goes away,” Dean O’Connell, an Exxon customer said. “I wasn’t planning to travel this Labor Day weekend, but now I am certainly not.”

While some stations are being drained by the surge of customers, not everyone is worried about this weekend’s supply.

Zee Mehmod, owner of the 7-Eleven on West Berry and South University Drive, said cars have been lined up since 6 a.m. waiting to fill their vehicles and he expects more throughout the day. He said many stations in the area have run out of gas, but his station got a 9,000 gallon delivery Thursday morning and is confident his customers will have gas tomorrow.

“People have purchased $11,000 as 11:30 a.m. today. I just had a man buy 101 gallons of gas that totaled $300,” Jehan Khan, a 7-Eleven employee said. “We only have 2,500 gallons of [regular] gas left and at this rate we should be out in the next hour. Our deliveries come from Waco, Oklahoma and Fort Worth. If we run out of gas it is because the media has scared everybody, not because a shortage of fuel.”

Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton tweeted Thursday that there isn’t a shortage.

Mayor Betsy Price backed him up with a similar tweet.

However, many residents still expressed worry over their next fill up and some frustration at gas stations.

“I’m freaking out about the gas shortage because everybody else is freaking out,” Lauren Harris said. “My family planned a trip to Austin this weekend, but we have all filled our gas tanks so I think we will be okay.”

Harris isn’t the only one with a road trip ahead.

“I had a business meeting in College Station that I had to cancel because of the gas shortage,” lawyer Ken Link said. “I should’ve gotten gas last night but I didn’t realize it would be so bad. The Costco on Overton Ridge was at least 50 cars deep.”

Edrick Garner said trying to get gas in Fort Worth wasn’t pleasant.

“I spent an extra 30 minutes to an hour going to four different gas stations,” he said. “I went around 8-8:30 this morning and it was pretty crazy. My wife and I got gas last night so I’m not really worried about it. Not yet at least.”  

Zamamba Martinez, a 7-Eleven customer, has no intention of leaving her house unless absolutely necessary.

“Whatever gas I use today; I will be back tomorrow to fill my car up again,” Martinez said. “Even if it is just a quarter tank.”

Katie Carter, Makenzie Keely, Alexis Guerrero, Lana, Wynn, Ryan Myers and Taylor Sutton all contributed to this story.