Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath has had far reaching impacts — not just in north Texas, but for southern Oklahoma as well.
Southern Oklahomans should expect to see a spike in gas prices during the coming weeks as nearby refineries try to make up for those that are offline in Houston and on the Texas coast. However, officials are urging the public not to panic because there is still plenty of gasoline without production from those refineries.
“We’re looking at increases, depending on psychologic factors and economic factors,” said Chuck Mai, VP of Public and Government Affairs at AAA in Oklahoma City. “The psychological factors stem from fear of worse case scenarios. Really, supplies are good. Inventories are at historically high levels; if there are any shortages they’re from consumers panicking.”
Hurricane Harvey hit landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast Friday night. By Sunday, the tropical storm brought torrential rainfall to Houston — flooding the nation’s fourth largest city. Harvey shut down more than 12 refineries in Texas, one of which is the nation’s largest refinery, Motiva, in Port Arthur (north of Houston).  
On Wednesday, Valero released a statement that said refinery startup is underway at their Three Rivers facility, and were continuing the startup process at Corpus Christi.
“We’re working closely with our business partners and port operations to ensure the availability of critical transportation and logistics infrastructure needed to resume all operations,” the statement said. “Houston and Texas City continue to operate. Due to flooding and potential power supply interruption, Valero’s Port Arthur refinery has shut down in a safe, controlled manner. The safety of our workers, their families and surrounding communities is our primary focus as we continue to monitor the weather and determine our next steps.”  
Mai said the Oklahoma state average in gasoline prices on Tuesday was $2.15 a gallon, but by Thursday the average jumped to $2.24 — a nine cent increase in two days. Mai added that Oklahomans could see another 10 cent per gallon jump in the coming week. Texas has seen an increase as well with prices jumping 12 cents over the course of a week, according to AAA data.
“We’re suggesting prices may rise farther because refineries may be closed for some time due to flooding and power outages,” Mai said. “But, it’s encouraging to know the early reports show minimal to no damage to the gulf refineries.”
According to gasbuddy.com, gas prices in some areas of north Texas, like Cleburne, have surged to more than $2.50 a gallon, while areas taking in the bulk of those impacted by the storm, such as Dallas and Forth Worth, are seeing prices sit around $2.44 a gallon. But, one problem north Texas is facing is consumer panic. Denton, south Dallas, and areas of Fort Worth are littered with gas stations that have run out of gas.
Laddi Singh, an Ardmore gas station owner who also owns stations in the south Dallas-area, said his stores in south Dallas and Arlington completely sold out of gas two days ago.
“We have no time frame as to when we will get more gas in that area,” Singh said. “So far there haven’t been any delays in getting gas to Ardmore. But, overall, we could see some, not shortages, but delays.”
Singh said many gasoline distributers are coming up from north Texas to the Ardmore Valero Refinery to fill their tanker trucks. Singh said he heard that the Valero refinery had a six hour wait time for the line of tankers waiting to fill up.
Representatives from Ardmore Valero, and Valero’s corporate office, could not be reached for comment. According to Valero’s website, the Ardmore refinery produces approximately 37,000 barrels of gasoline per day and 20,000 barrels per day of distillates — with a total throughout capacity of 90,000 barrels per day. AAA contends that consumers shouldn’t worry because there is not a gas shortage, it’s simply just taking longer to distribute it.
“The Oklahoma refineries and the pipelines in Texas are all working just fine,” Mai said. “But I think what’s happening in Dallas is consumer panic.”
Douglass Distributing, a company based in Sherman, Texas, released a statement Thursday urging consumers to “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 — creating an additional challenge for each delivery,” the statement said. “There is no outage. There is fuel. Each delivery is taking longer right now. We want everyone to know that we still have access to plenty of fuel — the lines that our delivery trucks are waiting in are just much longer because of the refineries that are shut down.”
At Singh’s Ardmore stores, gas prices have gone up 12-14 cents since the hurricane hit. But, he warns that consumer panic could spell disaster for southern Oklahoma gas stations.
“Don’t panic, just get what you need,” Singh said. “Panicking will cut people who need gasoline short and drive up the price. I have a feeling it’s not going to be a shortage, but if everyone panics like they did in north Texas, we will be at a loss and our stations will run out of gas.”