Lines stretched around the block at North Texas gas stations Thursday morning as drivers made desperate efforts to fill their tanks following a decision to shut down a major pipeline Wednesday evening. The shutdown compounds issues for Dallas' gas suppliers, which were already feeling the pressure from several refineries being offline in the Houston area due to storm damage.
At the Exxon/7-Eleven station at the corner of Oak Lawn and Maple avenues, the line of cars stretched for a block down Maple at mid-morning as drivers queued up for a chance to fill their tanks. Store manager Maebel Teklio said the lines started forming at 6 a.m. and had been constant all morning.
By mid-morning, the station sold more than 15,000 gallons more than its typical amount, and Teklio wasn't sure how long the supply would hold out. The station normally gets four deliveries a day — two loads of regular, one of premium and one of diesel. The station received its usual supply Wednesday, but no tankers had shown up yet Thursday, and she had no word from her supplier on when the next delivery might arrive.
Ken Murrah was one of scores of customers filling up his tank.
"I heard the lines were really long, and I don't have enough gas to get back home," said Murrah, who works down the block. "I thought the lines would be shorter in the middle of the morning."
They weren't. Early morning commuters down Highway U.S. 75 passed gas stations with lines stretching onto the freeway's access road. Others passed stations flagged with signs saying they had no more gas.
Murrah, who works near the station but has a 29-mile commute, said he had to wait in line about 15 minutes to get to a pump and pay what he thought would be $2.49 a gallon. As he filled his truck, he glanced up at the station's sign — which then read $2.59.
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"It's gone up a dime since I've been here," he said.
Several area QuikTrip stations, including the one at Alpha and Preston roads in North Dallas, were out of gas Thursday morning. QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said the outages were part of the company's plan to make sure North Texans can gas up throughout Harvey's aftermath.
"You are not going to have enough supply to meet your normal needs," he says, acknowledging that the news of a restricted supply is spiking demand. "So what QuikTrip is doing — we've been through this before with other hurricanes — we're taking half of our  Dallas-area stores and designating certain stores to be kept full of product. The reason we do that is you have no logistical way when you have a run on product that is short to keep every single outlet full of gas."
Customers can check out QuikTrip's website to see which stores have fuel available. Thornbrugh says QuikTrip is still waiting for information about when supplies — which he says are down about 6 million barrels a day — might be back to normal. Until they are, it's important that people keep their wits about them, he says.
"What we're asking everybody is: 'Please, don't panic,'" Thornbrugh says. "There's going to be product and there's going to be gasoline; it just may not be what you were used to in the past."