Gas supply still low at many local stations

Published 9:47 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2008

After gas prices spiked and fuel supply ran low from Hurricane Ike’s hit on Texas, many local stations still haven’t fully recovered.

“The only gas we’re able to get is unleaded,” said Jennifer Duke, assistant manager of the Beeline on 231. “We’re out of mid-grade, and we have some premium, but when we’re out, we’re out.”

At the Exxon station, it was the same story.

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“We don’t have any premium or plus,” said Tori Jones, manager of Exxon. “It may be a week or two before we can get any.”

And though these stations have had trouble finding higher grades of fuel, they said they don’t have concerns of running out of unleaded fuel.

Elaine Pinkard, owner of the Pinkard’s gas stations, said they haven’t had any problems getting gas yet.

“Right now we’re not, but that could change any day,” Pinkard said.

Clay Ingram, spokesman for Alabama AAA, said these types of supply shortages will be something residents may see fluctuating for a few more weeks.

“It’s just really odd. There are some that have just premium, some just regular, some just plus and some a combination of those,” Ingram said. “We’re going to be another week to two weeks before we get back to normal.”

Ingram said supply for fuel is limited, with oil companies opening back up on the coast, but panic buying prior to Ike’s landfall is the main cause of the shortage.

“We’ve been through this kind of situation before,” Ingram said. “This time, we’ve had that panic buying we have not had before.”

With a reduced pipeline flow into Alabama and the need to restock, Ingram said the shortage is just going to have to work itself out with time.

“We’re at an 80 percent flow right now,” Ingram said. “But even if we were at 100 percent flow through those pipelines, we still wouldn’t be able to resupply every station in the state at the same time.”

Ingram said, however, even without panic buying, fuel would not be in great supply right now.

“Without the panic buying, we would have a tight supply, but the panic buying caused the prices to go higher than they would have otherwise, and we jut dug the hole a lot deeper,” Ingram said.

Though prices have dropped lower than they were in the last weeks, the state average of $3.86 per gallon is well above the $3.54 it was before Ike hit.

Locally, prices have dropped significantly in some places, as they had risen up to $4.39 per gallon at some stations in Troy. Now, fuel prices are averaging between $3.75 and $3.90 per gallon of unleaded fuel locally.

Ingram said prices should also fall again in the next few weeks as supply increases, as long as crude oil prices remain low.

“It should be back to what it was before the hurricane or maybe lower,” Ingram said.

Pike County District Attorney Gary McAliley said their office has had no reports of price gouging in Pike County during the gas price spikes, and there are no investigations at this time.