Gas lines shorter in largest city hit by short­age

The Covington News - - Local news sarah noel anderson carolyn loyd herrin -

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.

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