Motorists line up as gas shortages hit again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman and Joanie Morris
Different week, same story.Motorists around Rowan and Cabarrus counties waited in line for gas Thursday as spot outages became more the norm than the exception.
Numerous stations throughout Salisbury, Spencer and beyond were without gas. The few that had supplies typically had lines of motorists waiting.
Tom Crosby, a spokesman for AAA Carolinas, said the problem stemmed from the fact that numerous refineries in the Gulf Coast were still shut down as the result of the last week’s visit by Hurricane Ike.
“You’ve got to remember that there are a lot of people in Texas who still don’t have electricity,” Crosby said.
He said the refineries should be up and running again soon and said this week’s round of gas shortages at area stations should be short-lived.
Crosby said he expected gas supplies to be abundant by today or Saturday.
“By this weekend, for sure,” he said of when the lines should dissipate.
Asked if the tendency of motorists to join lines at gas stations when they see others waiting contributed to the problem, Crosby replied, “Absolutely. Everyone feels the need to top off their tanks.”
In Kannapolis, gas stations across the city were running out once again after another rush on pumps put a strain on already parched stations.
At the Rushco Exxon at the corner of Dale Earnhardt Boulevard and South Cannon Boulevard, a short line of cars was in queue at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning. That line had grown considerably by about 3 p.m.
Randy Herring of Kannapolis said the Exxon was the third station he had stopped at trying to get gasoline for his bone-dry tank.
“I needed gas,” Herring said.
The Wilco Hess station on South Cannon Boulevard and the BP station close to the interstate at the intersection of South Cannon Boulevard and Mount Olivet Church Road were out when Herring drove past. On his way to Kannapolis, he passed the Petro Express in Concord, which was crowded, he added.Herring said he’s at a loss as to why stations are running out again.
“I don’t know what’s wrong here,” he said. “They’re (drivers) just waiting on stations to get filled up.”
The only gasoline available at the Exxon was regular octane gasoline, for $3.89 a gallon.
For Eric Henrickson, of Concord, that wasn’t great, but it was all that was available, so it’s what he took.
Henrickson admitted to not really needing gasoline on Thursday afternoon but wanted to “top off” the half tank he had in his car just in case.
“I don’t understand why last week you could get some (gasoline) and now you can’t,” said Henrickson, who passed five other stations on his drive to Kannapolis for gasoline, all of which were out of gasoline. Owner of a car that usually uses premium, he was hopeful mixing the regular gasoline available at the Exxon with the premium already in his tank wouldn’t hurt his engine.
One of the few stations to have premium gasoline in Kannapolis was the BP gasoline station on North Main Street in Kannapolis near Landis. Regular was selling for $3.89 there around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Had he known that station still had premium, Henrickson said he would have gone there for gasoline.
Gas prices throughout the area are varying this week more than usual. While the statewide average is $3.90 for a gallon of self-service regular, the average varies from $4.13 a gallon in Asheville to $3.80 a gallon in Fayetteville.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Easley says more gasoline is headed to fuel-starved western North Carolina.
In a statement released Wednesday, the governor said oil companies are aware of the gas shortage in the Southeast and are working to transfer fuel into North Carolina.Easley said pipelines that were damaged during Hurricane Ike are being refilled. But fuel has not been flowing as fast as it normally does. Easley said he expects the situation to improve over the next day.
While the governor said the shortage is temporary, he’s urging motorists to take “common sense” steps to conserve fuel by cutting down on travel, and carpooling when possible.