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Regional gas prices leap; some stations still dry
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
By AMANDA BUCK - Bulletin Staff Writer
Some area service stations continued to be without gasoline Monday, and AAA Mid-Atlantic reported that the average price per gallon in the region had increased by 59 cents in four days.
In the wake of Hurricane Ike, pumps were running dry at stations in southern Virginia and in the Richmond area, AAA reported in a news release. Several stations in Henry County and Martinsville experienced that over the weekend as motorists lined up to fill their tanks.
On Monday, People's Save Station on Greensboro Road in Ridgeway still was without gas after running out Friday afternoon.
"I'm not going to buy it until they lower the price," owner Bill Lemons said. He said he was monitoring prices on the Internet and had spoken with his supplier, who priced regular unleaded gasoline at $3.93 per gallon. That would not include any markups.
"They said they're having a hard time getting it," Lemons said.
The Sheetz service station in Ridgeway ran out of gas on Friday, and pumps there have been empty since, said corporate spokesman Monica Jones. According to The Associated Press, the Altoona, Pa.-based company's stores began running out of gas after a major Southeastern distribution artery run by the Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. was shut down Thursday.
Jones said that pipeline, which serves "most of the East Coast," was shut down in anticipation of Ike's landfall in Texas.
"We've been trying to work on getting some intermittent supply down to a few stores in that area to have a few online on a consistent basis," she said, mentioning stores in Roanoke, Lynchburg and Salem.
Jones said Sheetz is not sure when its supplies will return to pre-storm levels.
"The pipeline really just started to begin reopening this morning," she said. "There are intermittent shipments coming in, and we're trying to be one of the lucky ones to get product."�
While some stores were without gasoline, others were watching their prices skyrocket. According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in the Roanoke region increased from $3.55 on Friday to $4.14 on Monday.
That compared with a statewide average increase of 24 cents, from $3.54 on Friday to $3.78 on Monday, AAA said. The average price nationwide was $3.84.
Southern states served by the Colonial pipeline have been particularly hard-hit, AAA reported, with $4 gas returning "with a vengeance." The pipeline transports fuel from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to 267 marketing terminals "located near the major population centers of the Southeast and Eastern Seaboard, including sites in Virginia," the release said.
Although Colonial has restarted its lines, they are flowing at a reduced rate and "could exacerbate an already bad situation," AAA said.
Several area gas stations were selling unleaded gasoline for $3.99 a gallon Monday, with some posting prices well over $4. Motorists should try to be patient as they wait for prices to decline, an AAA spokesman said in the release.
"Supply problems do exist, but not shortages. What's the difference between supply problems and shortages?This is a temporary situation which will resolve itself over time," said AAA's Windy VanCuren. "Motorists are urged to resist the urge to top off their tanks unnecessarily, which will only aggravate the situation."�
According to the release, AAA has received "relatively few" complaints of price gouging. Anyone who believes he has been the victim of price gouging in Virginia should contact the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-552-9963 or 804-786-2476, officials have said.