Are There Fuel Shortages In The US?
By now, RV owners are well aware of the massive spikes in fuel costs over the past 6 months. Whether your rig runs on diesel or gas, prices at the pump have been shocking to say the least.
According to AAA gas prices on May 22, the national average price for gasoline is $4.59/gallon, while the average cost of diesel is $5.56/gallon. A year ago, the average price of gas was $3.04/gallon, and diesel was $3.18/gallon. RVers need to fasten their seatbelts and hold onto their hats because low supplies and high demand is going to push prices up even more over summer.
Fuel shortages in Washington State
According to The New York Post, gas stations in Kennewick, Pasco, and West Richland ran out of gasoline in May 2022. Auburn’s 76 gas stations are programming their signboards and pumps for double-digit prices.
However, a representative of 76 said this does not necessarily mean gas prices will go over $10/gallon for regular and premium gas. Gas prices in Washington are currently around $5.18, so a jump to $10/gallon anytime soon would truly be shocking.
Why are gas prices so high?
In 2020, the world was hit by a global pandemic. In the US, this meant people who traveled for work, vacation, or health reasons traveled a lot less. The reduction in travel reduced the demand for refined crude oil products like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.
Fewer US refineries
In an effort to cut costs and avoid flooding the market with excessive amounts of petroleum products, US manufacturers closed down their least profitable refineries, thereby reducing the supply and stabilizing fuel prices.
Then in 2021, things started opening up again. People began traveling again as they went back to work or finally got to return to vacation destinations. The demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel was starting to outstrip the supply. But it was still doable and prices weren’t too crazy yet.
In May 2021, Russian hackers wreaked havoc with Colonial Pipeline, the main supplier of gas and diesel from Texas to the southeastern US. The hackers caused Colonial Pipeline to shut down for just 5 days before the pipeline was back up and running. They were able to mitigate the situation by trucking both diesel and gasoline to gas stations in the affected regions. But terrified consumers put a run on the gas stations, panic buying all the gas and diesel they could get their hands on. This began the destabilization of fuel prices in the US.
Russia invaded Ukraine
Now, let’s fast forward to February 26, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. NATO countries (and others) stopped buying Russian diesel and gasoline as part of sanctions on Russia (for its unprovoked attack on Ukraine).
The US began selling more gas and diesel to European countries that previously bought gas and diesel from Russia. This reduced US fuel inventories, while increasing demand for US gas and oil exports to possibly exceed pre-pandemic levels.
When there is a reduction of supply, or an increase in demand, prices naturally go up. But now we have a reduction of the supply of refined oil products and an increase in demand for them. This is what is driving prices through the roof.
Supply and demand
Usually, when prices go up substantially, demand naturally decreases and then prices go down again. However, with ongoing concern about the looming climate crisis, and record profits being earned by petroleum companies, we might not see significant downward trends in fuel prices.
The good news is that even though there are occasional fuel shortages in areas of the US, we are not running out of fuel. According to Wikipedia, the US currently has 714 million barrels of oil in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
According to Natural Gas Intelligence, new US oil and gas projects have been given a green light, indicating that more crude oil supplies are on the way. The bad news is that without refineries to make that crude oil into gasoline and diesel, we are still likely to endure fuel shortages and high prices for awhile.
“In recent decades, distillate shortages have always been resolved by either a mid-cycle slowdown or an end-of-cycle recession, and there is no reason to think this instance will be different.” – John Kemp, Reuters.
What should RVers expect this summer?
There is no doubt about it: 2022 is going to be an expensive year for fuel. Prices of both gas and diesel could hit close to $10/gallon. Many RVers are responding to fuel price increases by reducing the distances they plan to travel or by curtailing their RV adventures entirely this year. Some campgrounds are already reporting cancelations as RVers adjust their travel plans to account for climbing fuel costs.
There are still many ways RVers can use their RVs this year without breaking the bank. For great tips on how you can save money on RV travel, check out this article on How To Save Money On Fuel This Summer.
Eliminate RV fuel anxiety by planning every fuel stop in advance, before your RV trip begins. By using RV LIFE Trip Wizard to plan your trips in detail, you’ll know exactly when and where you will need fuel for your RV or truck. You can also vet those fuel stops with satellite and street view to make sure you can get in and out safely.
- What Are The Best Gas Credit Cards For RVers?
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Lynne lives, travels, and works full-time in a Forest-River R-Pod 180 with her 2-pointers, Jolene and Annabelle. Lynne has been an enthusiastic RVer for over 35 years. And then one day in 2019, she began full-time RVing as a lifestyle experiment. She quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full-time RV living. Lynne is a professional writer and has been a professional dog trainer since 1995. You can read about her travel adventures on her R-Pod Adventure blog, R-podyssey at: http://www.rpodaventure.com
Lloyd Venable says
Shutting down Domestic petroleum production is the biggest cause of rising fuel prices!
Lori Snyder says
Correct Lloyd! There were plenty of people out traveling throughout the pandemic. It was shutting down US pipelines that has caused this surge in fuel prices.
Tell me that you didn’t understand the article without telling me that you didn’t understand the article.
Steve Evans says
Not one word about the Biden administration’s attack on leases in Alaska or the shut down of the XLPipeline day one of his administration. There are many factors of course but be honest. This “green new deal” administration doesn’t care about fuel prices or people!!!
The XL pipeline was never intended to carry anything for US consumers. Everything from the the Canadian tar sands was to be refined in New Orleans and shipped to South America, leaving the toxic sludge here.
The prez is the one that opened up federal lands and other locations to drilling.
I agree. If only our government wanted to solve this issue, but they prefer to cater to globalists because they have been infiltrated by them.
And it’s the oil companies that shut down the production.
The article complete ignores Biden’s anti-fossil fuel stance and shutting down the Keystone pipeline
Brett Eisenman says
Truth is America used to be energy independent. Through the miracle of politics, lies, deceit, and financial corruption, America lost its oil independence. We were already screwed well before Russia and the Ukraine problems.
Lauri Bringham says
Shutting down petroleum production to “stabilize” prices. Political translation oh we don’t want prices to go down. God forbid. I’m so sick of this political BS I can’t stand it. Why would we sell our fuel if we are running short and paying more than anyone ever imagined. Someone’s pockets getting lined and it sure isn’t the working people of the US. Now the governments poor decision making is taking away my ability to take my RV out and travel. Which used to be an inexpensive way to get away and see our country. Now we have to take a loan to fill the tank.
It’s the oil companies that are screwing consumers.
Atilla the Hun says
We’ve been screwed by our own government.
Jeanine Wenning says
Yeah, no mention of the US going from energy independent to now having to rely on imports? First thing this administration did was shut down the pipeline. Which has caused inflation and supply shortages. Tell the rest of the story.
Nunya Business says
There is no natural shortage. The oil companies and OPEC have created a shortage to jack up the price as much as possible. They have cut way back on production and left several operations that went off line during the Krazy off line to make up for the losses they incurred. Nope no shortage just greed and corruption in the oil industry and out government fiddles while America burns.
I am really surprised the comments were left up. Thanks RV Life.
Ron Jakacky says
For any one who has been on our roads and highways, or traversed two thirds across the country and back (as we have) has observed- nobody is driving like they give a hoot about gas prices.
New drilling has been given the green light, BUT, the environmental restrictions have been raised so high that new wells can’t qualify. Besides how are you going to force electric vehicles if petroleum fuel remains reasonably priced and available. Plus a major detriment to getting oil to the refineries was stopping construction of the Keystone Pipeline. We could be helping supply Europe with our surplus oil if all the restrictions of the past two years had not been implemented.
Can you explain drilling in the US being up by over 54% compared to a year ago, and up by over 107% vs December 2020?
The keystone pipeline was never intended to carry oil for US consumers.
Ron Hall says
I say BS to not enough refineries! Why all of a sudden
there isn’t enough?
The truth of the matter is that in January 2021 by the stroke of a pen the Keystone Pipeline was shut down….it was not the Pandemic or Russia it is the current administration. The USA has all the resources to supply the country with clean fuel but the current administration wants Electric and so all of us that are not able to purchase electric are doomed ….for the time being. Get out and vote!
Leslie BEVIL says
Lloyd is correct. The executive order to stop the pipeline and close down the oil drilling and production in the USA by Biden is the biggest factor. The only way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is to build a nuclear plant everywhere we have a power generating plant. That would probably be one in each big city and several for rural area. Then we all could have electric cars which would eliminate the RV industry because of the cost and travel limitation of electric cars.
I’m still waiting to see someone make a class a out of Tesla’s Semi
Gerald Duane Spadt says
By Biden shutting down the Keystone Pipeline and the Drilling in Alaska what do you think is the reason for a fuel shortage? Russia only exports 3% to the US Don’t believe our government for a second!
Bob B says
Wonder why no news media wants to go there except FOX news. That is what pushed the snowball off the mountain.
POLITICS…….plain and simple are the reason for rising fuel prices…it doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure this out….
Eric Schweitzer says
The article on rising fuel prices and availability was very good, but omitted discussion of a major cause of fuel shortages and high prices – President Biden’s war on fossil fuels. The Keystone Pipeline, stopping drilling leases, etc. I understand RV Life wants to avoid politics, but this is a factor that shouldn’t be ignored.
Scott C says
Biden shutdown Keystone XL pipeline is when higher fuel cost started. Almost a year before Russia invaded.
You are correct sir, you can’t ignore fact!
We are being taken. NG prices have not gone up. Just like gas the US is a net exporter of oil and should be insulated from these fluctuation. The robber barons of oil ride again. So thankful my daily driver is an EV.
So the American president shutting down a Canadian oil pipeline that never carried a drop of oil (and the oil it would carry, by and large, isn’t fuel grade but is only good for making asphalt/tar) caused a global surge in petrol prices. Ask yourself why so many R)epresentatives voted against investigating the possibility of gouging at the hands of the oil companies earlier this month. As pointed out by the author, refining capacity is the bottleneck. But keep parroting those big oil talking points while they count their record profits.
I don’t believe there ever was or is a fuel shortage. Why are the oil companies making huge profits. 35 BILLION in profits while we pay out the ass.
The oil companies need to be investigated for gouging. Also, I believe those that complain the loudest about gas prices are the ones that waste the most gas. Daily I see people accelerating hard away from red lights, speeding, accelerating uphill, racing up to red lights and stop signs, etc. There is a lot people can do to conserve gas. We only got about 9% of our gas from Russia. That can be completely offset if people would just use common sense in their daily driving and get their lead feet off the gas pedal. You won’t get there any faster.
This article is missing the main cause of gas price skyrocketing. Gas price early Feb 2021 $2.39/gal. Gas price end of Jan 2022 $3.60/gal (Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24,2022) So b4 the invasion took place, the price was already up by 50%. That increase in gas prices is a direct consequence of Biden’s war on oil and gas production. Please check this article. Notice the date it was written https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/27/biden-suspends-oil-and-gas-drilling-in-series-of.html
You are mixing apples and oranges. Gas profits and crude oil profits are not the same thing.
Of course if crude oil price goes up because now the supply in the world market is reduced by almost 1/5 (US consumption is about 1/5 of the world consumption). If the supply goes down but the demand remains the same(not too many people buying electric cars),prices go up. Econ 101.
The oil companies sell their crude oil at market prices so they make a profit. How much profit? Who cares? Gas prices on the other hand are going up also because gas is refined from crude oil. Again, if crude oil price goes up, gas price goes up too. The net profits before taxes is about $0.10/gal. Guess who is making more money from the high gas prices than the oil companies? State and federal government. The feds share is $0.184/gal and states from $0.09 in Alaska to $0.58 in PA. Compare to the $0.10 oil companies profits(from actual value added to the product) At the end of May 2022 the national average was $4.62/gal. That is a increase of about $1.00/gal since the war in Ukraine started. That represents about 28% increase due to the war. Compare it with the increase of 50% from Biden inauguration until the day before the war started. Common sense is all that is needed.