Gas pumps dry

Published 11:30 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike has shut down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, and local gas stations have the lines at the gas pumps to prove it.

Storeowners and operators are reporting gas supplies throughout the county will likely be depleted by today. It is a situation being duplicated all over the state, which prompted Gov. Bob Riley to declare a state of emergency for Alabama Friday. Riley made his decision after receiving new information from the U.S. Department of Energy that energy shortages will likely occur in the state due to Hurricane Ike.

Roy Mohon, owner of nine Gitty-Up-N-Go stores, explained how the shortage occurred.

“About 25 percent of the U.S. wells are in the Gulf of Mexico, and they’ve all shut down production,” he said. “(The gas/oil refinery industry) still hasn’t recovered from the last hurricane that came through the Gulf.

“The way that it works is that your gasoline suppliers will give out their supply to their branded stations – like Chevron, Murphy, ones like that – then they sell their remaining supply on the open market,” he said. “My stations and other smaller ones have to buy their gas off the open market. All the big folks have cut us off. There’s nothing on the open market and I’ve heard that some of the major stores are having trouble, too.”

Mohon said all of his stores throughout the county would be out of gas today.

“I’ve heard that things should settle down by Monday or so,” he said. “But they’ve suspended all production until Ike clears.”

One of the key issues in the local shortage is related not to Hurricane Ike but to Hurricane Gustav, he said.

“Where Ike is coming in, that’s not where we get the majority of our gas from,” he said. “We get most of ours from over in Louisiana. So, if Ike doesn’t affect the electrical grid, where companies can’t pump the gas out, it shouldn’t take long for the situation to normalize.”

Mohon said when the gas does make it to pumps locally, he warned residents it’s going to cost.

“You have to remember it went from $3.30 to $3.99 in three weeks, and that’s with the price of crude oil coming down,” he said. “If I could get a truck to come in (Friday), my cost would be $4.17 for regular unleaded.

“Market predictions are putting it at $4.59 (a gallon) by the time it makes its way down to us,” he said.

Some local stations were asking consumers to limit their consumption Friday to 10 gallons per purchase in order to ensure availability for all residents.

Attorney General Troy King said Alabama’s price gouging law was triggered as a result of the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency Friday.

With gas prices across Alabama reported to have reached or exceeded $5 per gallon in some cities, King warned unscrupulous businesses that are seeking to profit illegally at the expense of Alabamians that these practices will not be tolerated.

At press time, stations in Andalusia were reporting a range of $3.69 per gallon to $3.99 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. To monitor the cost of gas in nearly any U.S. city, visit and type in the specific zip code.