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Here’s Why There’s No Gas In The Northeast

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Having survived the hurricane (with scars), New York and New Jersey are now afflicted with massive gas lines.

In some places, these lines are reportedly many hours long. They're reminding people of the energy crisis of the 1970s.

That crisis, you will recall, was caused by a disruption in oil supply from the Middle East. In other words, it was a supply problem.

Related: Hurricane Sandy Ranks Among the Worst Economic Disasters: Mark Zandi

So, what's causing the lines this time?

We asked folks on Twitter. Here are some of the (sensible) theories that came back:

  • There's still no power in many areas, so everyone needs gas to run their generators (DEMAND)
  • There's still no power in many areas, and gas stations can't pump without power. This has increased the load on the stations that do have power and sucked their tanks dry. (SUPPLY)
  • There's limited public transportation, so everyone has to drive (DEMAND)
  • Everyone's panicked that they'll run out of gas (DEMAND)
  • Refiners can't refine and deliver gas without power (SUPPLY)

On this last point, we heard from a former oil analyst who added some details:

It requires electricity to run a refinery, open ports to offload barges, and electricity to pump gas. Major major infrastructure issue. Generators add to demand but they don't use up high-test. And yes you can't run a gas station without power.