Why finding gas has been more difficult in DC than in Md., Va.

Some drivers in the D.C. region have noticed it’s harder to find gas in the District than it is in Maryland or Virginia, which experts do not find surprising. They say there’s a good reason D.C. has less supply — and they suggest that prices could actually fall in the next two weeks.

To start, there is more demand in the District than in its neighboring states, said Phil Flynn, senior market analysts at the Price Futures Group of Chicago.

“It’s, number one, where people panicked the most and bought out the supplies. And number two, it’s more difficult to transport oil into the D.C. area than it is into some of the outlying areas,” he said of the logistics issue.

The District is also farther from the source, he said, so it takes longer to get pumps refilled.

“You have more obstacles to get to supplies. You’re not right on the port. You’re not right on the refinery … so it takes more time. Now, my expectation is that as the days go on, we’re going to see that open up a little bit,” Flynn told WTOP.

Some gas stations in D.C. are still empty, which is making it difficult for drivers to fuel up and hitting station owners hard.

“Colonial Pipeline reports it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal and markets like DC will continue to experience outages,” said Chris Rodriguez, D.C.’s homeland security and emergency management agency director, in a statement.

“We continue to urge residents to drive for essential trips only, use public transportation — including the free DC Circulator when possible — and schedule errands close together. Residents can check gas supply by visiting GasBuddy.com.”

The market response to the Colonial Pipeline hack that shut down the distribution of gasoline to the Eastern seaboard will benefit drivers who are able to wait to refuel, Flynn said. First of all, demand is now lower for gasoline, as many drivers bought more than they needed in the midst of the supply chain disruption.

“You’ve lifted a lot of restrictions on the refiners when it comes to summertime blends and gasoline. … You’ve waived the Jones Act, so companies, refiners can ship in gasoline with non-U.S. flag tankers. That’s going to make it a little bit easier,” he said.

And finally, more supply is coming in from Europe to meet the demand following the pipeline hack, so Flynn says the region should have more gas than usual just ahead of a popular traveling holiday weekend.

“That’s probably all going to hit at the same time. And so it’s probably going to see the market the most supplied right around Memorial Day,” he said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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