Look, you were all probably expecting me to cover the bail out news, the failed congressional rescue attempt, the biggest single point decline for the Dow in all history, general economic uncertainty, dire predictions, and so forth, but I’m sure you’re reading all about that in the news, and on other blogs. There’s no need for me to cover it here other than to say this is just one layer, albeit a big layer, in what could be brewing as a perfect SHTF storm.
I want to talk about something else – gas shortages in the South as a result of hurricanes smacking oil refiners. This has been in the news, but it has been far under-reported (in my opinion). Blame the bail out news, the election, Russia’s actions, pirates off Somalia, or whatever else for the lack of significant news coverage, but this gas shortage is yet one more reinforcing sign that our society operates on a fragile system that the average American is FAR too dependent on.
People in the South are now waiting in long lines to top off gas tanks and fill spare gas cans. They’re cutting each other off in line in their frustration and rage. Rumor has it some people were following tankers so they can get a fill up. Is this the wake up call people and government need? Doubtful. Our nation’s gasoline inventory is exceptionally tight in a society that loves to burn the shit up. This is all fine if a hurricane hits and people need to watch their gas gauge for a few weeks, but what happens if/when something more dramatic happens? What if war with Iran breaks out, oil shipments out of the Middle-East cease, and then refineries are smacked with hurricanes? Egad! Then terrorists hit a Russian supply line to Europe and the whole world goes nuts.
It’s one thing if you can’t drive to the movie theater, quite another if truckers can’t get diesel and the grocery store is empty for a few weeks! Here is a CNN post on the gas shortage subject. A commenter had this to say: “Also, just the fact that gas stations can run out in ONE day is an eye-opener for me. I never imagined it would only take a day. . . I figured it would be at least 3-4 five days!”
ONE DAY – folks! You know, Maine state government launched a preparedness campaign this month (which also went under-reported). I did hear about it on the radio, and they offered a staggering statistic. Only 14% of Maine households have a 3-day supply of food and water in their homes. THREE DAYS! I doubt the national average is any better – possibly worse. The public is going to completely FREAK OUT if grocery stores go empty and no relief is in immediate sight.
Fortune Magazine has published a piece entitled: “Gas shortages: get ready for more”
In the article it offers another staggering statistic:
In its most recent Weekly Oil Data Review, Barclays Capital pointed out that the U.S. gasoline inventory has reached its lowest level since August 1967, when demand was a little more than half its current level of 9.3 million barrels a day. At 178.7 million barrels, inventories are 21.6 million barrels below their five-year average.
None of this surprises industry watchers such as Matt Simmons, the chairman of Houston energy industry investment bank Simmons & Co. and chief spokesman for the Peak Oil movement. I recently wrote a profile of Simmons for Fortune (“The prophet of $500 oil”) and I can report that he has been warning about the potential of gasoline shortages in the U.S. for months.
“Our system is so fragile,” he told me recently. “All you need is a tiny change to go from ‘Oh, we’re in fine shape’ to an unmitigated disaster.”
As he told me the other day: “If we end up having gasoline shortages, the odds are about 90% that Americans will do what we always do: We’ll top up our tanks. And in topping up our tanks, within three or four days we’ll drain the pool dry and then within seven days we’ll run out of food.”
That sounds awfully dire. And it probably won’t happen. But, then again, a couple of months ago hardly anybody would have predicted that AIG would collapse, Congress would be mulling a Wall Street bailout, and ’70s-era gas lines would be back.
Good heavens. So let’s get all of this clear:
- the economy is on the brink of collapse
- oil and gas markets are ultra sketchy
- Russia is talking about helping Venezuela develop nuclear energy
- Israel wants to bomb Iran
- and North Korea is starting to process nuke juice again
Did I miss anything? Gosh, give me food and a bunker. I’d like to hide for the next 5 years . . . okay, that’s a lie. This SHTF news is actually quite fascinating. It’s interesting watching things unfold. Pop some popcorn and open the news sites – hit refresh – hit refresh – TEOTWAWKI news just keeps pouring in.
Below is an amateur, on-the-scene video report of the gas shortage:
– Ranger Man
BTW: Good comments on the percolator versus French press post – lots of points I hadn’t considered.
Also, just out of curiosity, do YOU stock a spare supply of gasoline? If so, what’s your method?