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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.

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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