Gasoline Shortage in Eastern U.S. Another Example of Fragile Infrastructure

A pipeline
The Colonial Pipeline, which brings gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from refineries in Texas through the Southeast and up to New jersey has been shut down to a cyber attack.

A friend from the shore called to tell me his wife sent him out to fill their seven gasoline cans. She’d been told that there were gas lines in town and that gas was selling out at some stations. My friend told me he saw one guy at a gas station filling nine gas tanks. I called one of my daughters, yep; she had heard the same thing in her city.

It’s like the COVID-19 toilet paper shortage but with gasoline. A rumor starts that supplies are tight and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and it sells out, mostly thanks to guys filling up every spare container.

I mention his impending shortage to a neighbor and he isn’t worried. He drives an old diesel. His thinking that it would be easier to get diesel than gasoline if the Colonial Pipeline that brings petroleum products from Texas through the South and up the East Coast to New York doesn’t re-start soon. His truck is probably old enough that it lacks the modern clean diesel technology and can run on heating oil in a pinch.

How Much Gas is Enough

I mention this to my wife, and she checks her car. Half full. Damn, we should have filled it when we were out last week. My truck is in good shape, more than three quarters full. I also have 20 gallons of stored gas that is fresh and useable. Then I have a few gallons of old gas that I would hesitate to put into my truck, but that work just fine in my garden tractor. Finally, I have a gallon or two of what I call “saw gas,” which is gasoline mixed with oil for the chain saw, weed whacker, and other two-stroke engines.

So if we park the truck and stick to my wife’s more efficient vehicle, we can probably drive 1,000 miles. More if we can figure out how to get the gas in my truck out–most modern vehicles utilize anti-syphon technology.

Good thing we don’t have anywhere to go. the pipeline problem to be fixed relatively quickly.

Another Disruption

In February, bitterly cold weather caused to stop running and pipes at natural gas production facilities to freeze, knocking them off line and causing brownouts and blackouts across the state of Texas. Many other companies had to shut down, including plastic-resin producing companies that relied on raw materials from the natural gas as their feedstocks. This resulted in a huge short-term disruption across Texas and smaller but much longer supply chain issues around the country.

Now a cyberattack from a mystery hacker group based in Eastern Europe or Russia has caused major infrastructure problems in the U.S.

This is just another example of how complexity adds fragility to our infrastructure. Now we have to not only eat locally, and produce our own energy (via solar), but install gasoline storage tanks. All because the large companies we’ve been paying for years cannot secure their infrastructure from hackers and bad weather. Maybe they should be plowing some of their profits back into IT and cybersecurity.

What’s wrong with these big companies who don’t use a virus checker on their PCs? How do cities, towns and educational institutions get caught by ransom software? And since when did important utilities, like pipelines, put their infrastructure on unsecured networks?

Prepper News Update

This story about a warehouse in West Virginia is a good example of how small problems can create large ones in the supply chain.

An excellent article on living in inflationary times ran Sunday on It talks about the importance of barterable goods and using pre-1965 silver coins (junk silver), both topics that have been covered here.

I expect to be covering a different approach to preparing for inflation in the next day or two, so check back.

Here’s a short video from the BBC on shortages in the U.S., many of which we have mentioned before. They cover lumber, chicken and a few other items but leave our ammunition.

Violence has erupted in Jerusalem as police and Palestinian protesters clash. Rocket fire from the Gaza strip was met with air strike reprisals from Israel. I expect this will get worse before it gets better. Israel seems to be gearing up for a long battle.

Gasoline Shortage in Eastern U.S. Another Example of Fragile Infrastructure