Gas Shortages Plague Southeastern U.S.

Posted: September 24, 2008

The average cost of a gallon of gas nationwide has now declined for seven straight days, but don't tell that to the people of Georgia or Tennessee.  Parts of the southeastern United States are seeing gas shortages, pump closures and long lines for what little gas remains more than a week after Hurricane Ike shut down much of U.S. gas production.

CNN Money reports, "The average price of unleaded regular dropped 1.1 cents to $3.715 a gallon, from $3.726 a gallon, according to the survey released Wednesday by motorist group AAA."  That represents a total drop of about 14 cents since the Hurricane, but prices "still remain higher than a year ago, when gas was selling for less than $3 a gallon."

But, the Los Angeles Times notes, "In Southeastern states, gas shortages and long lines were widespread due to oil industry interruptions and damage to the energy infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico.  At least half of the stations in Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas ran out of gasoline over the weekend, said Tom Kloza, an analyst with the Oil Price Information Service."

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A map of user-reported station closings on CNN showed a gas shortage concentrated in Georgia and Tennessee this morning, with sporadic station closures in other parts of the South.  The rest of the nation, however, seemed mostly unaffected.

The AP reports, "Nashville continues to see the worst gasoline shortage in the Southeast, the region hardest hit by supply problems after Hurricane Ike.  Problems are also reported in metro Atlanta and Tallahassee, Fla., said AAA spokesman Randy Bly."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, "State and industry officials say the problem stems from supply interruptions from the Gulf, where refineries are still rebuilding capacity after the double whammy of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and the required use of cleaner-burning fuel in metro Atlanta. That means gas can't be easily diverted from other areas where supplies are ample."

According to the L.A. Times, the clean fuel requirement for Atlanta was lifted this morning.  "Georgia leaders hope that will help alleviate the shortages," but experts say the waiver "is not likely to solve the problem immediately."

"There were mixed signals about how soon the shortages will abate," adds the Journal-Constitution. "Industry officials say refineries are rapidly restoring supply, and state officials say they're taking steps to boost the flow. Some station owners, however, say they've been warned not to expect normal supplies for days to come."

The shortages are causing a panic in some areas.  An AP report cites "stations shut down in Nashville, long lines in Atlanta and even fights breaking out in bucolic Blue Ridge mountain towns" as a result of the shortage.

North Carolina NBC affiliate WITN reports, "Fights broke out between motorists waiting in long lines for fuel at an Asheville station and managers called police for help" yesterday.

Research the best cars in every class with U.S. News' car rankings and reviews.  While you're at it, you might want to read about fuel-conservation tips to help you ride out the price hike.

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