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Gas Shortage Hits O.C. Costcos

Memories of California's 1979 oil crisis resurface as pumps run dry at some stations and prices skyrocket.

A whiff of 1970s déjà vu crept into motorists' minds this week as gas prices skyrocketed and some California stations stopped pumping petrol altogether.

Amid news reports of refineries rationing supplies and local Costco stations running dry, some people began flashing back to the state's last big gas shortage.

Jerry Brown was governor then too. (See accompanying video for an extra dose of déjà vu.) 

Gas lines wrapped around the block and odd-even rationing limited pump purchases to alternate days, depending on a car's license plate.

Is it happening again?

In recent days, Twitter users have been asking if they're caught in some kind of time warp.

"Are we sure this isn't the 70s and Carter isn't pres?" Tweeted @mburleson.

"High gas prices, some stations running out/rationing/shortage - Holy Batman is Jimmy Carter in his second term?" asked user @SusanDadamo.

"Record high gas prices close gas pumps in CA," Tweeted @jmattbarber. "Welcome to 1980, where the gas ain't cheap & Carter is Obama."

Four Orange County Costcos reported Thursday evening that their gasoline storage tanks remained empty after going dry Wednesday.

Costco employees in Laguna Niguel, Irvine, Fullerton and Tustin reported dry pumps. An Irvine employee said the discount store's gas was being diverted to keep stations in Fountain Valley, San Juan Capistrano and Garden Grove running.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Orange County as of 9 a.m. Thursday was $4.33—an increase of 21.8 cents in the past week, according to the Auto Club of Southern California.

That's still lower than June 2008, when OC prices hit an all-time high of $4.598, according to the Auto Club.

But the record may soon fall.

“Reportedly in recent weeks, local refineries were dropping production levels, exporting supply to Mexico and other countries, and allowing inventory to dwindle in anticipation of switching over to production of ‘winter blend’ gasoline, then a refinery power outage and a pipeline incident occurred on Monday that sent wholesale markets into a panic about the adequacy of California fuel supplies,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring on Thursday. “We’re easily on track in the next day or two to break the 2012 record for gas prices, but it’s not clear how much higher it will go beyond that. A lot depends on whether the perceived supply issues are quickly addressed.”

The shortage is likely to be resolved in days or weeks, rather than months, as California refineries work out their supply issues, Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service (which compiles the price data for AAA) told the Los Angeles Daily News.

Do you remember the 1970s gas shortages? Share your memories and thoughts in the comments.

OC Mom October 05, 2012 at 11:22 PM
I've read that gasoline was $1.84 a gallon when Obama took office. Look at it now and please vote accordingly. Obama wants to crash our economy and have everyone other than his wealthy, elite friends uneducated and completely dependent on the Goverment.
MisturChips October 05, 2012 at 11:46 PM
definitely - if everyone is chocked, they can't move, assuming a chock is placed on the front AND read of their wheel (grin). Of course, that's a joke, but the point is well taken. Watched a documentary about a group of people who formed mid-last century that stated the best way to topple America is with environmentalism...
tiny October 06, 2012 at 12:11 AM
We may not be the best spellers, but we could matter. Environmentalism is one way of many that helped to topple America. My personal thinking is we're too far divided to overcome and get back to sanity. But I could be just a doubting Thomas.
Rossmoor Resident October 06, 2012 at 02:27 AM
This sudden price spike just a month before the election looks suspicious. Maybe the big oil companies are trying to help their pal Mitt win. Then they can keep their tax breaks, build the Keystone pipeline to increase exports, and crush alternative energy research. Don't let big oil manipulate you! Vote for your interests, not theirs.
Johnny Utah October 06, 2012 at 02:54 AM
NØPE! More government=less freedom! yes, Alan...I'll vote for my interest.
ms.sc. October 06, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Maybe North Dakota can help out. This oil/coal exploration is expected to last beyond 20 years and have already made "small towns" millionaires many times over! I know we need to keep our energy resources at home, I am all for it. It does come with a price. Just Google PBS North Dakota Oil. Sorry, I do not have the exact link. But, North Dakota is experiencing now is what the California Gold Rush felt like...only we are much less "tropical". Well, if that is the sacrifice our State must make to help our Nation, We will.
Judy October 06, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Need more refineries, and start working on natural gas vehicles, instead of the windmills.
Charles October 06, 2012 at 01:14 PM
"Need more refineries..." I wonder why the US Dept of Energy, the EPA, and the oil companies executives didn't think of that.
Martino October 06, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Ms.Sc- What are you some kind of Do Do Bird ?? If you looked into the so called "Fracking" that they are doing there in North Dakota you would see all of the damage that has been done to their water supply !!! If you turn on your faucet you best not light a match or else " poof " your whole house goes up in flames !! Geezo peezo I am glad nobody put you in charge....
Yeparoo October 06, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Interesting Mr Chips. Pretell, would be interested to know the source of your assertions. I would like to know what the benefit of the summer/winter fuel blends are. I would like to keep the healthy air quality benefits of the fuel blends, it any. I grew up in So Cal can remember all the Smog Alerts. I realize most of that was from factories that emptied pollutants into the atmosphere, but vehicles to factor into air quality. Could the AQMD and the fuel industry come up with a single best blend for year round use, or stagger the refinery blend change over to minimize supply interruptions?
CriticalThinkerInFV October 06, 2012 at 06:42 PM
If BoBo was pres we would be screwed. Haha
MisturChips October 06, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Behind alternative propulsion systems (We converted some cars to electric and such), Fuel systems was one of my favorite college courses. In it, the instructor 'officially' followed the curriculum, but also told us about how CARB made up the 'Oxides of Nitrogen" B/S becuase their jobs were coming to an end w/ the excess hydrocarbon and co under control on most vehicles after the first (and proper) round of emission control (higher compression engines that burn fuel more efficiently. The higher combustion temps make for a more complete burn, BUT can cause some of the nitrogen (71% of our air, I believe) to oxidize. "OH, NO!" We can use that to lock in our semi-worthless bureaucracy and keep our jobs FOREVER! Seriously - If you spend an extended time out of state and burn 2 or 3 tankfulls of 'non-Ca' fuel, you'll notice you get a significant increase in mileate, horsepower, and less pinging / pre-detonation. Only problem is all the extra ethanol that's now blended in the other states makes it not as much of an improvement, and rots out fuel systems unless they've been hardened to the effects. If the 'crats were worried about OUR bottom dollar, they'd mandate efficiency over anything. remember all the early 80's cars that got 40-50MPG? Now that we're electronically controlling almost every aspect of an engine, there's no reason why a conventional small car can't do dramatically better than that, other than the 'crats and their odd restrictions.
ms.sc. October 07, 2012 at 12:53 AM
No need to be rude and resort to name calling Martino. The Fracking is monitored 24/7. And no one is really excited about what all this exploration and fracking is doing to our small communities and land except the ones with all of the mineral rights. The Fracking is nothing new when drilling for oil and if done properly will not pollute the underground water channels.
Dusty W Otero October 07, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Oh come on its not the presidents fault ...its a state problem and if u want cheaper gas go to michigan its below four dollars there like $3.64
ms.sc. October 07, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Any kind form of energy production has it's risks...whether it be nuclear, turbine wind, oil, coal, even water (i.e. dams). I could go on-and-on with the risks of energy production. If we want to be self-sufficient, we need to make sacrifices, certainly not careless ones. The fast rate of oil exploration in North Dakota frightens me. I too am worried about the "fracking". I also experienced the 80's oil boom in North Dakota that went "bust" and the greed slapped people greatly, as well it should have. I hope we have learned from the greed, sadly, it doesn't look that way. So Martino, no, I hate what the oil is doing to rural, small-town America. I hope we have a cold winter to get some greedy people out of North Dakota...as everyone knows how "tropical" we are.
BTB October 07, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Who was that that said..."If you've got a business—you didn't build that".
Frieda Wales October 07, 2012 at 03:33 PM
But who will buy your house 15 miles from the nearest business center (Irvine). Even Irvine is considered a smaller business center when compared to Los Angeles.
Charles October 07, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Same people who are buying them now. Despite rise gas prices, home prices in South OC are stable or rising. And, most people who live in my neighborhood, work within 15 miles. No matter how much gas rises, people are still going to want to live in South OC (if for no other reason than, there aren't too many places that offer low crime, excellent schools, lots of jobs, amenities, excellent weather, and desirable master planned communities). I suppose if gas gets really expensive a person could live in a 700 sqft hipster loft downtown, a hundred feet from some drunk urinating in the alley.
randy October 07, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Perhaps when our dollar weakens, prints even more, the gas price goes up when value goes down. If we strengthen the dollar, gas prices gown down.
John October 07, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Big Expo. Bought it new in 2000 for 32,000 and had to get on a waiting list to get one. Still going strong. Best car I have ever had, but is a pig. Probably cant give it away now!
Penny Pratl October 08, 2012 at 12:27 AM
We need more refineries in this state, haven't built a new one in years. This price rise has nothing to do with greedy oil companies. It's called supply and demand. We don't have enough Gasoline due to unexpected refinery shutdowns. Can't get it from other states due to our special blends. If we don't build more refineries get used to high prices whenever there is a breakdown. Only happening on the left coast.
Joker Joe October 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Wackooo??? You can tell what is in a women's heart by the way she treats animals.
Joker Joe October 08, 2012 at 04:33 PM
OC Mom They will not wake up and understand. Maybe when BO gets off his 3 month campaign he will look at the 99%, after playing a few rounds of golf, and help us. Then again maybe not!!
Joker Joe October 08, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Dfarmer Go to Saudi Arabia. It's .35 cents.
Joker Joe October 08, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Big oil is giving to Obama. Your lost Allen....
Joker Joe October 08, 2012 at 04:36 PM
ms.sc. Martino is not rude. Just calling a spade a spade.... lol
Joker Joe October 08, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Small minds think small!!!
Joker Joe October 08, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Debate my idea on keeping the oil in this country. Don't inflict pain on me as president.
Yo-Yo October 14, 2012 at 08:15 PM
My guess is that gas is so expensive because prices are high, but when Obama is not president anymore prices are going to drop to $1.39 a gallon and I am going to win the lottery and buy a fleet of Lamborghinis, which I cant do now because I havent won the lottery because ......... Thats right, because OBAMA !!!!!
Joker Joe October 15, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Yo If oil leases, when sold, had the clause in it that oil supplies are given at a set cost to the U.S. FIRST then we would be on the road to oil independence. Over the years we would be more free from foreign oil dependency. Pretty simple, huh?? Or you can blame Bush, Washington, Lincoln, or Hamilton. This president has done NOTHING towards oil independence.

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