Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gasoline supplies are tight in
Dallas-Fort Worth Area
09:29 AM CDT on Wednesday, September 24, 2008
By ZACHARY WARMBRODT / The Dallas Morning News
Hurricane Ike is hitting North Texas gasoline stations hard this week – causing delays in fuel shipments and spot shortages.

Drivers should expect more frequent shortages in the next two weeks as the Texas Gulf Coast's refining capacity continues to come back online, fuel distributors said Tuesday. But after that, supplies should be back to normal, distributors said.
And prices should remain stable, as the major brands of oil locked in their prices before Ike made landfall.
Retail stations said shortages arose at the end of the last workweek. And some gas station owners are desperate. John Benda, owner of Fuel City stations in Dallas, said he expected to run out of regular gasoline by Tuesday evening. "I've been calling all day and begging," Mr. Benda said. "It's been a big problem for the past five days."
Some stations said they were out of gas by Saturday or Sunday. And some Dallas, Richardson and Mansfield stations reported shortages over the last few days.
"You'll drive around and you'll see a lot of bagged pumps," said Rick Canady, president of Fort Worth's Lucky Lady Oil Co.

Distributors and service station operators said drivers should keep a full tank until shortages subside.

Don't panic

But Jim Ervin, AAA Texas area district manager, cautioned that a run on the pumps could make matters worse. He advised consumers not to panic.
"If we look over history from 9/11 to hurricanes, we have never run out as long as we don't panic buy," he said. "If we panic buy because we think it's going to run out, we'll definitely have shortages."

Hurricane Ike, which swept through the state almost two weeks ago, forced the shutdown of Gulf Coast gasoline pipelines and oil refineries.
They are in varying stages of restarting, which is putting the squeeze on supply in North Texas and across the Southeast.
Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia were all reporting sporadic shortages this week.
"It's largely a function of how the distribution system is working right now," said Bruce Bullock, director of Southern Methodist University's Maguire Energy Institute.
"If you look up to, say, the mid-South region – Atlanta, Nashville, up in the Carolinas and so forth – most of their gasoline comes from the Colonial Pipeline. The gasoline that actually feeds that comes from the Houston refineries."
Until those refineries are up and running, he said, they're not able to feed that pipeline.
Most of North Texas' gasoline supply comes from refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, which account for about 20 percent of the country's refining capacity.
"There have been a lot of refineries that aren't fully restarted and back at full rates yet," said Bill Day, spokesman for San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp.
"It has been a lengthy process coming back up from Hurricane Ike, mostly because of power issues – and in our case, things like utilities and fresh water supply."
Local terminals
John Clark, a dispatcher for PM Fuel Services Inc., takes requests from gas stations and passes them along to the company's truck drivers, who pick up the fuel from local terminals attached to pipelines coming from the Gulf Coast.
He said the terminals have started to ration the amount of gasoline they let trucks pick up, so station owners are getting less fuel than usual and less frequently.
Suppliers set prices at 6 p.m. and allow trucks to pick up the fuel at midnight.
"Usually around 7 or 8 in the morning, the product's done," Mr. Clark said. "You can't get [any] more."
Mr. Clark said PM Fuel Services is 10 to 12 loads of fuel behind in orders per day.
Two weeks after Hurricane Rita made landfall, he said, the company was behind up to 50 loads a day.
Normally a station would get an entire truckload of gasoline – about 9,000 gallons. Now, the company splits one truck between four or five stores.
"We've been called everything you can imagine," he said. "They think we're just being mean to them by not bringing them gas. It's because we can't get none."

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