Friday, September 19, 2008

Fuel shortage spurs turmoil at area pumps

Posted: Sep 19, 2008 01:02 PM CDT Updated: Sep 19, 2008 01:40 PM CDT WKRN News Channel 2 Gas has become harder and harder to find across the Mid-State, creating long lines and flaring tempers at several area stations. Most of the fuel in Middle Tennessee comes from a pipeline that starts in Houston. Mike Williams, executive director of the Tennessee Petroleum Council, said until refineries damaged in Hurricane Ike are up and running, drivers will continue to see problems at the pump. "We're in a very unusual circumstance right now where the refineries aren't operating at full capacity," he told News 2 earlier this week. "Tennessee depends mostly on a pipeline that comes from Houston to New Orleans to Atlanta to Chattanooga to Nashville and Knoxville. That's where most of our gasoline comes from." The pipeline is called the "Colonial Pipeline" and it distributes 95 million gallons of fuel every single day across the United States. "The pipeline has been running slowly because there's no fuel to put in the other end of it," said Williams. "You can't get some out of this end if you don't put some in the other end." In Williamson County, the three gas stations at the corner of Highway 96 and Royal Oaks Boulevard in Franklin had no gas Friday morning. In Brentwood, at the corner of Mallory Lane and Moore's Lane, stations had gas but also had long lines of frustrated drivers. State officials said the shortage can be blamed on "panic buying." Emily LeRoy, associate director of the Tennessee Oil Marketers Association, said some Nashville stations reported double their usual fuel sales volume for a week since Hurricane Ike came ashore in Texas. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeremy Heidt called the situation in Nashville a "temporary pinch point." He said while Knoxville had similar problems earlier in the week, the city was receiving adequate delivery and prices had dropped. Memphis and Chattanooga also reported no problems obtaining fuel, Heidt said. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Nashville Friday was $4.08, down four cents from Thursday. The nation average Friday was $3.75 a gallon. Consumers can report suspected price gouging at or by calling 615-741-4737 or 1-800-342-8385. Consumers need to provide the name of the gas station, address, the price and grade of gas.

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