Area gas sta­tions run dry

Driv­ers fill tanks fear­ing price spike

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

Mo­torists flocked to gas sta­tions Fri­day af­ter­noon af­ter gas prices sharply in­creased amidst news that Gulf Coast re­finer­ies were shut­ting down in prepa­ra­tion for Hur­ri­cane Ike.

The sta­tions with less ex­pen­sive gas had long lines of driv­ers wait­ing to fill their tanks. Some gas sta­tion man­agers were rais­ing their gas prices as much as 30 cents at a time.

Gaso­line prices at lo­cal gas sta­tions di­verged wildly with an ex­treme high of $5.20 at the In­gles store on Salem Road in Cony­ers to $3.82 at the BP sta­tion on Pace Street in down­town Cov­ing­ton.

Toya Bluiett stopped by the QuikTrip on U.S. High­way 278 to fill up her tank at ap­prox­i­mately 2:30 p.m. on Fri­day af­ter­noon af­ter her hus­band called her with the news that gas prices had steeply risen around the metro At­lanta area.

“I went down to Race­Way and they

had no gas in the mid and low grade,” Bluiett said. “I don’t know what the scare’s about. It’s scary.”

Quick­Trip sta­tion man­ager Bryan Thomas said un­leaded gas prices were $3.59 when he came to work Fri­day morn­ing. By 2:30 p.m. they had risen to $3.89.

Thomas said the gas sta­tion raised its prices when they were di­rected to by their cor­po­rate of­fice. He said Quick­Trip would not be run­ning out of gas. But, by 4:30 p.m. Fri­day, their bill­board gas price signs were com­pletely blank. The sta­tion re­mained out of gas on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The Race­Way sta­tion down the road also ran out of gaso­line Fri­day.

Tony Ku­mar, man­ager of the Chevron sta­tion at the cor­ner of Emory Street and Wash­ing­ton Street, was in the process of chang­ing the sta­tion’s gas prices from $3.68 to $3.98 a gal­lon at 3 p.m. Fri­day.

“I just got the phone call that gas went up ev­ery­where be­cause of the hur­ri­cane,” Ku­mar said.

Fri­day night, Gov. Sonny Per­due signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der ac­ti­vat­ing the state's price gouging statute to pro­tect con­sumers from un­rea­son­able price in­creases for gaso­line be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Ike.

The gov­er­nor said the hur­ri­cane “ has dis­rupted the pro­duc­tion of dis­tri­bu­tion of gaso­line, which will have an ef­fect on prices. We ex­pect the prices that Ge­or­gians pay at the pump to be in line with the prices re­tail­ers are pay­ing. We will not tol­er­ate re­tail­ers tak­ing ad­van­tage of Ge­or­gians dur­ing a time of emer­gency.”

The statute pre­vents re­tail­ers from sell­ing goods or ser­vices at an un­rea­son­able price. It does not pre­vent price in­creases that ac­cu­rately re­flect an in­crease in the cost of the goods or ser­vices to the re­tailer

“We are en­cour­ag­ing mo­torists to ex­er­cise some re­straint this week­end," said AAA spokes­woman Carol Gif­ford. "The run on gas is cre­at­ing a cri­sis be­fore there is a cri­sis.”

Exxon Mo­bil Corp., Valero En­ergy Corp., Cono­coPhillips and Marathon Oil Co. were among the com­pa­nies that stopped re­fin­ery op­er­a­tions on the Texas coast, pri­mar­ily in the Hous­ton area. The area ac­counts for about 20 per­cent of U.S. re­fin­ing ca­pac­ity.

The As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this re­port

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