Monday, September 15, 2008

Many Nashville-area stations run out of gas

By KATE HOWARD • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • September 15, 2008 Rapidly rising gasoline prices became a moot point at some Middle Tennessee markets this weekend as the stations ran out of gas. Nashville-area stations started feeling the effects of Hurricane Ike on Friday, the morning the storm bore down on Texas. Many stores in Williamson County have been out of gas since that night, and pumps across Nashville have been bagged to let consumers know they can't fill up there. "It seems to be pretty much countywide," said Williamson County Sheriff's Cpl. Mark Livengood. "Several (stations) are out of everything but premium, and several are just completely out." Livengood said the shortage hasn't led to any law enforcement problems, and officers haven't seen any increase in stranded motorists. But travelers are frustrated. "Friday and Saturday, we had people coming in and saying they couldn't find gas anywhere," said Ashley Felts, a cashier at the Mapco Express on Hillsboro Road in Franklin, which has been out of fuel since Friday. "They were using our phone book." Shortages have been reported across Nashville as well, including at stations in the West End area and in Donelson. Many are stores in the Mapco chain. A Mapco representative couldn't be reached Sunday night and other industry sources were not available to explain the reasons for the shortages. Metro boosts reserves Hurricane Ike battered the heart of the U.S. oil industry: Federal officials said a number of production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were destroyed, though it was too soon to know how seriously that would affect oil and gas prices. Pump prices jumped above $5 per gallon in some parts of the country Sunday as the hurricane, which caused less destruction than feared, left refineries and pipelines idled. Fuel reserves for Metro Nashville vehicles have been increased at the request of Mayor Karl Dean, to ensure that gas is available for the city's public safety officers, Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said. "If an officer has difficulty finding fuel at neighborhood gas stations, he or she can drive to a government pump," Aaron said. While Nashville Fire Department officials have noticed the bagged pumps, drivers have been diligent about topping off their trucks, said spokesman Ricky Taylor. "We're trying to stay on top of it, because we know it could get critical on us also," Taylor said. Far beyond areas struck directly by high winds and flooding, Ike left behind a bizarre pattern of prices at gas pumps, with disparities of more than $1 a gallon in some states, and even on some blocks. "We're on the other side of the looking glass," said Claire Raines, who lives near Knoxville. "I just passed three gas stations with prices that ran from about $3.50 to close to $5 within walking distance." Differences of more than $1 a gallon in the price of regular gas were reported in Smyrna and Nashville. Average prices exceeded $4 per gallon in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, South Carolina, Hawaii and Alaska, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. States fed directly by refineries along the Gulf Coast were particularly hard hit and supply may be sporadic for the next few weeks with refineries shut down, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with the Oil Price Information Service. Whatever pain is being felt at U.S. gas pumps probably will be a very brief phenomenon, analysts said. The Associated Press contributed to this report.Contact Kate Howard at 615-726-8968 or

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