Gas prices up, but will tanker truck driver shortage cut supply?

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A sure sign of things slowly returning to normal is gas prices rising to $2.99 a gallon in the Grand Rapids area this week.

GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan says with demand up, expect to pay an average of $3 a gallon this summer.

It’s a far cry from prices this time last year.

“Makes it seem unfair that now that we can get out, prices are much higher. But that’s exactly the reason why prices are higher because Americans are taking to the road and filling their tanks,” DeHaan said.

But a looming concern nationally is getting gas to the pumps.

The pandemic not only had us parked for the summer of 2020, but the lack of demand also side-lined tanker trucks due to less work and drivers laid off or finding other jobs.

“Now that things are on the rebound, things are looking up and Americans are filling their tanks. Those truck drivers, they’re missed,” DeHaan said.

The National Tank Truck Carriers trade group says a lack of drivers has parked between 20% and 25% of gasoline tankers.

But the impact on supply may depend on where you live.

Here in West Michigan, Crystal Flash, which supplies gasoline, home heating oil and other petroleum supplies, has experienced the high demand for drivers.

“We are fortunate to have an outstanding team of professional drivers at Crystal Flash who are dedicated to safely delivering fuel to our customers — we expect to be able to support our customers’ needs throughout the summer, through the fall harvest, and into the winter heating season.” Crystal Flash President and CEO Tom Olive said in a statement to News 8.

“I would say West Michigan shouldn’t have a problem. And yes, I think it will vary completely from place to place,” DeHaan added.

DeHaan believes there will be temporary shortages across the county. Las Vegas is already seeing temporary shortages.

DeHaan he says West Michigan can likely weather the driver shortage.

“The good news is, if you see a station that’s running out of gas, it will probably have it in a day or two. But I know that stokes a lot of fear in Americans thinking that they’re going to run out of gas,” DeHaan said. “The gasoline is there. (It’s) just a kink in the hose that delivery drivers are going to have to be shuffling around an awful lot this summer to make sure those tanks stay full.” 

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