Experts say that consumers will be paying more for gas this summer because there are not enough tanker truck drivers to keep up with the increased demand.
The increased need for gas is typically prevalent in emerging countries. Still, in the United States, the supply-demand seems to result from the government opening states back up after over a year of COVID-19 regulations. Now that states are opening back up, and people are beginning to go back to their somewhat daily lives, there is a need for more tanker truck drivers to deliver the product to consumers who wish to drive. However, the certification process to become a tanker truck driver takes about six months and is a somewhat tricky process. As a result of this hurdle, truck drivers have resulted to hauling freight to pay the bills.
Oil and gas expert Phil Flynn says a massive surge in demand, especially in vacation areas, has created a frenzy.
“I’ll tell you what this is just getting started right now,” says Flynn. “We are seeing this huge surge in demand.”
Flynn also says the bottom line is that people want to go on vacation, but it’s hard to get people to work in a vacation area when they can get paid for staying home. Flynn’s remarks come on the heels of Americans receiving stimulus checks.
The U.S. had a 100 million barrel a day supply back in 2019 before COVID hit. Now the country is on a trajectory to get back to that point, but there are not enough certified drivers to make that happen. According to National Tanker Truck Carriers, there is a 25% shortage of drivers, causing a significant distribution problem. Experts anticipate the lack of qualified drivers will raise the national average to above $3.50 per gallon.
Opis Global Head of Energy Analisis Tom Kloza says that some stations in Florida already ran out of fuel during spring break and that people should expect more shortages between Labor Day and Memorial Day.
“You know we had one-hundred million barrels a day back in 2019, and we are on a trajectory to get back there, but for COVID, so we really got to watch that closely,” Klaza told Fox Business. “The other thing you have to look at is OPEC Plus, which is really the Saudis and the Russians, they are behaving like central bankers, and they are managing the price, and they are managing the supply. So far, they have done a good job, but traditionally the Saudis and the Russians don’t get along. It’s a bit like that biblical parable where the lamb will lay down with the lion, but the lamb ain’t going to get much sleep.”
All of this means that by summer, Americans will be paying more for gas as prices head the wrong way.
There has been a shortage of tanker truck drivers for years, but the number has now more than doubled.
“There has been a shortage for years,” says Elben Featherson, who runs Community Truck Driving School in Round Rock, Texas. “Typically, it’s about one hundred to one hundred and fifteen thousand–we are actually at about three hundred and twenty thousand right now.”
Not to mention, states rely on truckers to deliver food and goods. The Texas Trucking Association reports that 82% of Texas goods come by truck, and the Texas Food and Fuel Association has already registered shortages. The shortage will likely reach even deeper into consumers’ pockets.
With all the chaos in the trucking industry, it’s safe to say that autonomous driverless trucks are on the way.
Truck driver Finn Murphy told PBS Newshour that autonomous would likely hit the road within the next 3 to 4 years.
“I think it’s imminent,” says Murphy. “I think it’s going to happen within the next three years or so, where you have a Level 4 autonomous vehicle, which means that it doesn’t have a human driver.”
Truck drivers average about $42,000 a year salary but exceed six figures, which can be costly for freight companies. Withal, it’s safe to say that autonomous trucks will one day be king of the road, taking away jobs from humans.
Not every state will fall into crisis this summer, and some prepared more than others. Crystal Flash CEO Tom Olive says his professional drivers are dedicated and fortunate enough to support customers throughout the summer into winter.
“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,” Olive explained in a statement issued to Wood TV8. Olive maintains that West Michigan should fair well during the crisis.
Ultimately the shortage of tanker truck drivers will affect the price of goods at U.S. supermarkets. Prices on computers, electronics, food, furniture, and decor are rising, partly due to the gas shortage. Still, there is even a more prominent factor at play called inflation.
A report by WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 reveals that people aren’t going back to work because they fear getting sick in addition to childcare costs and unemployment benefits, which is creating a massive food chain labor shortage. The shortage of workers makes a price hike on consumer goods because employers are now competing with the government, giving out free handouts.
As a caveat, fossil fuels are dwindling, which means it’s only a matter of time before we run out.
How long before we run out of fossil fuels?
A British Petroleum white paper titled Statistical Review of World Energy 2016 reveals that we only have about 150 years left of coal production and nearly 50 years of natural gas and oil resources remaining, adding to the dilemma.
The organization, Our World In Data, reports that “depleting reserves could become a pressing issue 50-100 years from now.”
The report goes on to mention how “climate change” can also deter oil production.
“Carbon dioxide emissions remain trapped in the atmosphere for long periods of time, building up an atmospheric stock that leads temperatures to rise,” the report authored by Hannah Ritchie reads. “To keep average global temperature increase below two degrees celsius (as has been agreed in the UN Paris Agreement), we can thus calculate the cumulative amount of carbon dioxide we can emit while maintaining a probability of remaining below this target temperature.”
Taking all into consideration now may be a good time to start preparing. Learn how to prep on a tight budget.