Customers Rush Gas Stations Following Storm
Some gas stations saw long lines of cars over the weekend, while others suffered losses and continue to wait for power to return.
Friday night’s storm affected Maryland residents and business owners in different ways, but just about everyone felt the need to get a full tank of gas.
Over the weekend, gas stations that had power were flooded with cars looking for both gas and ice.
Jim Kurtz, the owner of a Takoma Park Shell station on New Hampshire Avenue, said his station saw a tremendous increase in drivers looking to get gas on Saturday and Sunday.
“We had lines down the street all day Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “We usually use around four tankers of gas (8,800 gallons each) during the week, and last week we used six.”
Kurtz said the station ran out of gas on Saturday by around 6 p.m., was refueled Sunday morning and ran out again by Sunday night.
He says he has no idea what causes the rush to fill up, attributing the panic to human nature. Kurtz added that he had heard of some people, including one of his managers, sleeping in their cars with the air conditioning running to avoid the heat.
Not all gas stations fared as well. Many in the Chevy Chase area lost power on Friday, and some, like the Liberty gas station on Connecticut Avenue, are still without electricity.
“We opened today for the first time since Friday,” the station’s owner Mario Bruno said. “We’re just doing light auto repair, all manual labor.”
The Liberty station has not had electricity since Friday night, and Bruno says they haven’t been told definitively when it will be back.
“We’ve probably lost between $40,000 and $60,000 in the past four days,” he said.
Bruno added that if Pepco’s predictions that the outages could take until Friday to fix turn out to be correct, the station will lose more than $60,000 between the loss of gas, convenience store and automobile repair sales.
Some stations in the area used the demand for gas to increase their prices.
Steve Lapkoff, the owner of a BP station on Old Georgetown Road, said the company had requested that its stations increase their prices by $.05 on July 2. His station was closed on Monday due to the power outage, so he said he raised them on Tuesday.
Lapkoff said he isn’t in charge of gas prices, but he added that if he were, he would have raised them to benefit from the demand.
Kurtz said he did not increase his station’s prices.
However, he explained that Shell raised its rack price, which is the price at which refineries sell gas to wholesale locations like his Takoma Park station. The price increased by $0.10 on Friday evening and came back down on Monday, he said.
Regardless of the increase, Kurtz says the station saw “super mayhem” on Friday evening and Saturday morning, and it continued to have long lines until there was no more gas.