Gas lines shorter in largest city hit by shortage
ATLANTA — Lines eased somewhat Tuesday in Atlanta, the largest city hit by a hurricane-induced gas shortage in the southeast, as Georgia’s governor waited for a White House answer to his request to release more crude oil.
Gov. Sonny Perdue sent a letter to President Bush on Monday requesting that a “signficant amount” of crude oil be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help ease the shortage.
Perdue contends that while many Gulf Coast refineries are operating again after disruptions from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike last month, not all are receiving enough oil to return to full capacity.
“Now, as refinery capacity is returning to pre-hurricane levels, I believe a surge in crude from the Reserve would bridge the gap until full production resumes and lessens the impact of shortages on the daily lives of our citizens,” Per- due wrote in his letter to Bush.
White House officials did not immediately return a call for comment.
But fuel analyst Tom Kloza with the Oil Price Information Service said extra oil isn’t the answer. It could take refineries several weeks to ramp up operations regardless of how much crude they receive.
“It’s probably political cover in asking for that,” he said about Perdue’s request.
On Tuesday, Perdue also made it easier for gas to be delivered by temporarily allowing suppliers without a state motor fuel license to sell gas in Georgia.
The gas shortage has created long lines at stations and frustrated drivers around the Southeast, hitting particularly hard in the Atlanta area, Nashville, Tenn., and western North Carolina.
The situation in Atlanta had improved some Tuesday as gas stations reported shorter lines, but new supplies delivered to pumps quickly disappeared as frantic motorists filled up out of fear they wouldn’t be able to find fuel again.
The state’s main artery for gas, operated by Colonial Pipeline, is back to pre-hurricane levels, but it takes days for the gas to cover the distance from the coast to communities inland, spokesman Steve Baker said.
Justin Wickline, 30, is moving to Atlanta from a town 25 miles north to save money on gas. The bartender said even though he works late, he’s had trouble lately finding gas when he gets off work.
“It’s crazy that normally when you leave at that time, no one is out, but now people wait until the early morning to get gas,” said Wickline, who plans to start riding a bicycle to his job one mile away from his new apartment.
However, Atlanta resident Janelle Penn, 24, said she had an easier time finding gas Tuesday than in past days. She ran out of gas on Interstate 20 over the weekend and was stranded until a stranger came to help.
“I am disgusted with this because I have to fill up every two days, but today lines are way shorter,” she said as she filled up her Jeep at a BP station.
By 4:30 p.m., the station was running low on gas and closed down half its 12 pumps.