Gas prices 2021: Why prices are up and why there’s a shortage - Deseret News clock menu more-arrow no yes

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There’s a gas station shortage because everyone’s trying to get gas right now

Gas station pumps are packed right now as people anticipate higher prices

Gas station pumps are packed right now as people anticipate higher prices.
The price and the number of gallons pumped are displayed on a gas pump at Harts Gas & Food in Midvale on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Fears of a gas shortage and higher gas prices are leading to ... a gas shortage.

Why are gas stations packed?

Gas stations are packed as more people try to snag gas at lower prices, worried that prices are going to rise because of the shortages, according to USA Today.

  • “Following the shutdown, motorists have flocked to stations to top off their tanks, fearing shortages, even though pipeline officials have said they expect to ‘substantially’ restore service by the end of the week, likely limiting most of the fallout,” USA Today reports.

People flocking to gas stations to get some gas is, in effect, causing the shortage. So fear of a shortage is creating a shortage.

  • “People are filling up at a breakneck pace,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for the fuel-savings app GasBuddy, according to USA Today. “There’s just no way that stations can stay anywhere near caught up.”

Why is there a gas shortage?

Gas prices began to spike this week after a ransomware attack led to a shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which helps with the supply chain of gasoline across the U.S., according to CNN.

  • “This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally. Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the east coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson in a statement. “These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.”

Per AAA, the national gas price jumped to $2.985 per gallon. There are a chance average nationwide prices could rise into the $3 area because of the supply chain breakdown. Summer travel is another reason why prices might be high for some this week.