The millions of Americans that have been latched to their homes for the past year amid the Covid-19 pandemic will be eager to get out of the house, especially once inoculation rates increase and restrictions are lifted.
Indeed, many people will likely go on a much-needed post-pandemic vacation, especially during the summer once children are out of school. However, they may soon find themselves in a predicament, that is, they may not be able to fill their vehicle up with gas. Now, there certainly is not a shortage of gasoline or crude oil, but there is a shortage of tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the fuel to gasoline stations across the country.
According to data compiled by the National Tank Truck Carriers, a trade group for the industry, anywhere between 20% to 25% of tanker trucks are expected to be parked ahead of the summer season due to a shortage of qualified drivers. Compared to the same period in 2019, only approximately 10% of trucks were parked. “We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for awhile, but the pandemic took the issue and metastasized it,” explained NTTC executive vice president Ryan Streblow to CNN. “It certainly has grown exponentially,” he continued.
During the height of the pandemic when demand for fuel hit a near-standstill, drivers left the industry in search of ulterior employment prospects. In some cases, drivers exited the business altogether, taking the pandemic as a cue to retire from their profession. Indeed, not anyone can drive a tanker truck; it requires special training that can take weeks, as well as a commercial driver’s license. And although tanker truck driving may come with a higher pay grade relative to other traditional long-haul trucking jobs, it is difficult and strenuous work.
Another issue that contributes to the shortage has been the widespread shutdown of driving schools earlier on in the pandemic. The setback has decreased the number of new qualified drivers entering the industry. Moreover, a recently new federal clearinghouse that was introduced in January of last year with the aim of identifying drivers with prior drug or alcohol convictions or failed drug tests has also pushed out about 40,000 to 60,000 drivers from the country’s employment pool.
The ripple effects from the driver shortage will likely have a significant impact on gasoline availability, especially as demand approaches pre-pandemic levels. America’s vacation hotspots face the highest risk of shortages, with a number of outages already being reported in Arizona, Florida, and Northwest Missouri during the spring break period.
Although the problem appears to be localized, the risk of a run on gasoline could very well ensue, especially once drivers begin topping off their vehicles to avoid risking an empty tank down the road. “Imagine the hoarding with toilet paper and topping off of gas tanks that we see after hurricanes and you can see what might happen,” said Oil Price Information Service chief oil analyst Tom Kloza. He added that the problem could become significantly worse by the strengthening demand for gasoline, which is forecast to rise to 10 million barrels per day during the summer.
Information for this briefing was found via CNN. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.