DMV drivers run into gas shortages as pipeline problems, price hikes persist


DAMASCUS, Md. (WDVM) — Drivers heading in and out of Damascus, Maryland are having trouble filling their tanks as gas shortages and long lines for fuel plagued the northern Montgomery County town Tuesday night into Wednesday afternoon.

“Well, my first thought was I was glad there wasn’t a line, but then I realized there was no line because there was no gas,” said Jack Dean, after he tried to fill up his tank at the Woodfield Country Store in Damascus late Wednesday morning. “The long lines and people filling up their gas cans, it’s like the toilet paper debacle all over again.”

Sticky notes reading “NO GAS” were plastered on each of the gas station’s fuel buttons before 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Experts say there are several factors fueling recent problems at the pump. WDVM’s Randi Bass spoke one-on-one with Patrick De Haan, a petroleum analyst with GasBuddy, on Wednesday.

“There’s kind of a trifecta of issues making things much worse than they should be,” he said.

De Haan says demand for gas as the pandemic winds down, the cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline, and drivers hoarding gas are all contributing to the shortage and a spike in prices.

“Enter 2021. Demand comes surging back, but production of crude oil has not come surging back. We’re at the intersection of those two factors and that’s why $3 is here,” said De Haan.

De Haan says the nationwide average price for a gallon of gas is over $3, “a psychological barrier” that makes people take notice of the change.

On Wednesday, WDVM reporter Steven Cohen said he saw prices range between $2.21 and $2.99 for a gallon of regular gas while he was in Hancock, Maryland, and a price of $2.89 for a regular gallon in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

In Montgomery County, WDVM morning traffic anchor Shennekia Grimshaw spotted prices at $3.19 a gallon in Silver Spring, Maryland.

WDVM reporters Emily Yinger and Christy Matino spotted prices of $2.99 a gallon in Hagerstown, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia.

De Haan says it’s important to keep frontline workers in mind before you head to the pump.

“We should think about our communities and who needs the fuel and who doesn’t. I know I don’t. If you don’t either, just save it for somebody that does,” he said.

De Haan said even though the Colonial Pipeline is set to be restored by Friday, the other issues at play could extend problems at the pump through Memorial Day, especially for states south of the D.C. metro.

The Gas Buddy tracker website can help you spot gas shortages, outages, and price increases in your area. You can try it out here.

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