Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gas Math in Long Island

 I finally had to break down and get gas yesterday (I am odd, which most of you already know, so yesterday was my day).   I still had almost 1/4 tank but even I am being more conservative than usual.  Normally I consider it to be a waste of time to fill up when I am not almost empty.  It cost me $30 to fill the tank (I love my Prius).

My fault was choosing to wait in one of the many "hope" lines.  A hope line is one where the cars are lining up and even moving forward (as cars leave the queue) but the gas station in question is not pumping gas.  So that killed an hour.

When I finally found a gas station that was pumping (referred by a friend), I drove 10 miles out of my way (burning gas) and filled up after about a 25 minute wait.   The Hess website is good at showing which station has gas and there is a web site gasbuddy that also shows them.

Did I tell you I love my Prius.  I lasted 2 weeks and still had enough gas that I could have driven another few days.  I tell everyone I drive a sports car (because it is red).

I really rail against people who think odd/even gas is gas rationing.  It is not.  People can still buy as much gas as they want as long as they shop on the right day.  Rationing would be if people were limited in what they could buy (and as an environmentalist, I do not think that would be terrible although the logistics would be a nightmare).

I think there would be one more thing that could be done to cut the wait time in gas lines.  Do not allow people to refill unless their tank is on 1/4 full or less.  Many people are refilling when they are over half so this is doubling the number of stops at the gas station.

So why the gas shortage?  It has to be the damaged distribution system since the math simply does not support that we could not catch up easily.

The math and assumptions:

There are 1.2 million households in Long Island.  Assume there is an average of 2 cars per household.

Assume normal people use 10 gallons or gas weekly, the base demand is 24 million gallons/week.

Assume 10% of the gas stations are without power so there is a one time 10% reduction in reserves.

Assume normally the average car is half full and now the average is 3/4 full.  Assume the normal tank holds 16 gallons (which has to be way high), this would be 4 gallons times 2.4 million cars or 9.6 million gallons.

Assume of the 20% without power(it is a bit lower than that now but averaging the past 14 days), 20% of those people are running a gas generator for 4 hours per day.  A 5000 watt generator (which is on the large side of average) uses 1/2 gallon per hour so that is added demand of 2 gallons times 24,000 households that is 480,000 gallons per day.  This is an increase in demand of only 14%.

So the added gas for the increased gas people are keeping in their tanks is about 1/2 week plus 10% for the gas in the ground at gas stations without power.  And added demand of 14%.  If only 1 week more supply was added, we would be caught up.

Of course these numbers are way skewed because Long Island is not an economic island and what happens in NYC and surrounding areas has impact.  So likely all my calculations/assumptions are off (and misresearched)

And what I hear nothing of is people conserving.  Conservation would be one easy way to get us back on track more quickly (although the math on that still works out to 3.5 weeks if everyone cuts use by 25% (I will let you do the math))

I never know what posts will get me the most search traffic.  I notice I have good ranking for Good to Great is Gone  and Wisdom of Failure but virtually no rank for others like Propel and Compound Effect.

Wondering if Google thinks I am more of an expert in loser topics.


At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Demand will increase for something in short supply because people believe "there is not enough" for everyone. We, in general, have a scarcity mentality. If you believe that "there is more than enough for everyone" the gas situation doesn't make sense as you point out - maybe more people need to think like you. (Can't believe I just said that :).


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