Panic Sweeps Across Energy Supply Chains As Shortages Push Prices To Stratospheric Levels

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A catastrophic shortage of gasoline, diesel, liquified natural gas, and other fuels is emerging on global markets, and it is going to push already elevated prices to stratospheric levels over the next weeks and months. The shortage is likely to hit U.S. consumers where it hurts them the most. Americans are already severely cost-burdened by soaring living expenses, and given that virtually everything we buy and consume requires transportation, that increase is going to ripple through the entire economy, aggravating the inflation outlook. To make things worse, one industry CEO is warning that gas stations will run dry if the shortages persist for much longer.
Over the past few days, a number of global traders have started sounding the alarm over a massive squeeze on fuel supplies, especially diesel and distillate fuels on an industry level, while on a consumer level, supplies of gasoline and natural gas are running perilously low. Conditions at global markets are increasing the risk of a “systemic” shortage that could lead to fuel rationing in the weeks ahead. More worryingly, power utilities around the world are likely to struggle to restock natural gas inventories for next winter considering the “paralyzed” state of the spot market.
Meanwhile, analysts at ZeroHedge are warning that fuel inventories could deplete even further if demand from manufacturers and freight carriers continues to outstrip the ability of oil producers and refiners to supply enough fuel. “Needless to say, without diesel, not only will maritime traffic grind to a halt but much if not all U.S. truck-based logistical support and supply chains will soon be paralyzed. The consequences for the global economy will be dire,” they wrote.
Fuel oil inventories in the United States are 30 million barrels – or about 21% – below the pre-health-crisis levels and at the lowest level since 2005, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported. Now, the global shortage of fuels is threatening to create a severe spike in oil prices just as it did in the first half of 2008. The shortage of distillate is already bleeding into the gasoline market. Gasoline inventorieshave dropped 6 million barrels below the seasonal average, And with drivers panic-buying gas, those inventories may be gone soon. A gallon of gas is now averaging $4.32 a gallon on a national level, marking a 51% jump from a year ago.
In some states, such as Florida, people are panic buying fuel in bulk to avoid higher prices and save money while they still can. Others, who cannot afford to pay such expensive prices for gas, have been drilling holes at gas tanks and stealing it from cars parked on the streets. The AAA says that gas theft is on the rise all over the nation, and with each passing day, more cases are being reported. At the same time, the experts are alerting that companies will have to raise gas prices much further to restrain consumption and avoid inventories falling to critically low levels, a phenomenon known as “consumer demand destruction”. In short, a lot more pain is coming for U.S. drivers.
During the 1970s, gas shortages led to incredibly long wait times at the pump, and staggered fill-up days based on license plates as the nation’s gas stations ran dry. As the offensive between Russia and Ukraine worsens and the world braces for further conflict, Americans are about to witness a repeat of what happened in the 70s. With the shortage of fuels intensifying by the day, gas rationing will become our new reality. As long as global leaders continue to weaponize oil-based fuels to ensure their geopolitical interest, the rest of the world will continue to suffer.
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