My own private petrolium reserve?

Had a thought occur to me while driving around this morning and listening to a conversation on the radio about the dwindling oil reserves.

Would it be possible for a private individual to say, buy 100K gallons of gasoline and store it for their own purposes? I’m sure that there would be numerous environmental and regulatory problems to deal with but I wonder how insurmountable they would be.

Say you had enough money to buy or build some type of storage facility, would gasoline be able to keep for 20 or 30 years. Does it have a shelf life?

It seems that if you could make an investment into 100k gallons and sit on them for 20,30,40+ years, you could make a good deal of money on your investment. You could also ensure that you had gasoline, even if it got to the point that it was so scarce that it was prohibitively expensive. I could see a number of people doing this as a way of ensuring that they or future generations had access to gasoline.

I put this in GQ because I really don’t want to debate the degree of how much oil is left or how long reserves will hold out. We all know it is a finite resource and it is a matter if when we run out eventually, not if. Rather, I would like to just keep this on topic concerning the feasibility of an individual creating their own private reserve.

Another thought…

Is there a limit as to how much gasoline an individual can purchase at one time?

I’ve been told not to store gasoline over the summer in my snowblower unless I add a product called Stabl (I think that’s hwo it’s spelled). Now I’m not sure if it’s the gas which deteriorates or some of the additives, but it might not be possible to store gas for long periods.

Yeah, I googled around a bit and couldn’t really get a definitive answer on the shelf life question. Some sites suggest a one year shelf-life, others say that this is a misnomer, and that gasoline has a much longer SL. I wonder if it would be possible to add stabilizers yearly to a large supply or somehow otherwise combat condensation concerns, as well as whatever causes gasoline to break down.

I’m sure there is doper out there that knows far more about this than I. :slight_smile:

Wasn’t there a thread on this exact same subject a while ago?? I can’t seem to find the link.

Gasoline and other refined products have a relatively short shelf life, even with stabilizers. That’s why the Strategic Petroleum Reserve doesn’t store refined products, it stores crude oil.

I’ve worked on a couple of projects with underground gasoline and diesel storage tanks (for fueling stations), but don’t have construction cost data. I would guess that the price of gasoline would have to go up by an order of magnitude (to somewhere in the range of $10-100 per gallon) for construction of the tank to pay for itself with the cost savings from one tank full of gasoline. If the price of gasoline was much more volatile, you might be able to fill it at a low price and consume it at a high price more than once. For a truer payback price, add in maintenance of the tank, annual inspections, etc., as well as costs of measures to prevent spoilage (i.e., stabilizers, quality testing, etc.).

By the time such a reserve would make sense to a private individual, their gasoline powered vehicle will either be obsolete, or very close to being obsolete. If oil reserves are so scarce that gasoline is unavailable, there will be something else to take its place- at a price quite a bit higher than what we pay for gas now, but not an order of magnitude higher.

I don’t think so. I know awhile back gas station pumps would shut off once $50 was purchased. They had to get rid of that after gas prices rose and people with Hummers or Ford Expeditions would have to swipe their credit card twice just to fill up the tank once.

That said I do not think there is any rule stopping you from pumping all the gas out of a gas station. I expect they would be thrilled as long as you paid for it.

Presumably if you wanted to buy some massive amount of fuel you would go to the distributor and have them send tankers out to you. As mentioned I am sure you would have to deal with all sorts of legal issues regarding storage of so much fuel and it would likely be expensive and a hassle but if you really wanted to why not? Companies do it all the time.

Is it possible to buy a lifetime supply of gasoline?

Here’s my only experience with stored gasoline.

My brother in law left his pickup truck sit for about a year and a half. It was a bit of a challenge to get the thing to run again, but I didn’t change the fuel in the gas tank. The truck had about half a tank in it, and as soon as I got it running reasonably smoothly I took it to the gas station and filled it. The truck ran ok, but definately ran better once that tank was empty and filled with fresh gas. Note that there were no gas stabilizers or anything in the tank though. Basically he just parked it one day and never bothered to start it again.

It might be easier and safer to store kerosene/disele fuel which has a longer shelf life and can be used in some cars.

I am not a petroleum engineer, but it is my understanding that “raw” gas has a significant shelf life of months to years. Not long enough to making a killing as the OP hopes, but it does last a reasonable amount of time. What doesn’t last are all the additives put in the gas. Dyes, detergents, stabilizers, etc. I have been told that gas from the gas station is significantly degraded after 30 days. Still works, but not as well. There are packets of Stablizors to stabalize the stabilizors that are already there, but you are messing with a very complicated chemistry. Consider it a very perisable product. Besides, gas is reformulated with the seasons. Summer gas is different than winter gas which is different than southern which different… you get the idea. And of course California gas is unique in the entire world.

So I don’t think hoarding gas would be a good (or safe) idea.

I found a couple of cost breakdowns online to base a ballpark cost estimate for an underground storage tank. Both were for 3000 gallon tanks and both ran in the low $20k range, for an installed cost per gallon of around $7. A larger tank will cost less per gallon, but not much (they go up to 10-15k gallons per tank, larger capacities than that are several tanks manifolded together).

If gas gets to $9 a gallon in 2005 dollars in a short enough period of time, your personal petroleum reserve could break even. If it’s over the long term, the only users of gasoline will be for operation of historically significant vehicles- “here we have an example of the 1986 Yugo- a fine specimen of an internal combustion powered vehicle that burns a curious mixture of hydrocarbons that came out of the ground during the 20th and 21st centuries.”

Oh well, just an idea that I had before the coffee kicked in. :slight_smile: If gas could be stored for 10 years, I might have been on to something. A year or less of shelf life changes things substantially.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share your informative answers.

Couldn’t you just buy gasoline futures? Is there such a thing? Every time you fill up, sell some of your futures. Then you’re more or less paying the purchase price from x years ago.

I seem to recall that one of the major gas companies was talking about letting the consumer buy a large quantity (like 500-2000 USG) of gasoline and let them pump it out at the same price over the next year or two. You would basically lock in the price that they sold it to you that day. This was before the prices started getting jacked around like they have for the past year so. I guess they decided it wasn’t profitable to pursue that method of sale.