Gas remains scarce

Published 11:30 pm Monday, September 15, 2008

“Conserve. Conserve. Conserve.”

Those are the words of advice one local convenience store owner is telling consumers in light of the current gas crunch in Covington County and the Southeast.

All but a few stations in the county were without regular gasoline Monday. It is unknown when the situation will be remedied after Hurricane Ike all but shut down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico last week as it made its way to Texas.

On Friday, some stores were asking customers to limit their purchases to 10 gallons in order to ensure availability for others. Roy Mohon, owner of nine Gitty-Up-N-Go stores, said his stores were out of gas by Saturday afternoon.

By Monday, the majority of his tanks were empty.

“We’re pretty much empty,” he said. “All the major suppliers have cut us off. If you’re an independent store — like us or say The Corner Market — you can’t get it.”

Mohon said he has one store on U.S. Hwy. 29 that has a “little bit” after the supplier was able to get into the county with some product.

“We had to buy it at $4.68 a gallon,” he said. “We didn’t even buy a whole truck. Couldn’t, you know. I bought that because someone might need it when they pull up to the pump. We’re not going to make any money off of it.

“We can’t be on the streets selling it for that price,” he said. “Right now we’re selling it for $3.99 a gallon because we haven’t put the new stuff in the ground yet. I’m just going to try and cover my costs and get it out of there.”

Mohon said he’s heard reports of stations selling it for $4.89.

While The Star-News could not locate a station selling gas for $4.89 a gallon, it was determined that the Sun Valley Inland store in River Falls was selling it for $4.79 a gallon.

“I guess they have to, because that’s all they can get,” he said.

As gas prices jumped almost a $1 seemingly overnight, reports of price gouging throughout the state increased.

A spokesperson from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Unit said there are no specific numbers available yet as to the number of complaints.

Mohon said there is no indication as to when relief might arrive for consumers.

“I wouldn’t even speculate a guess at this point,” he said. “We’re not getting any solid answers from anyone. The best advice I have for folks is, ‘Conserve, conserve, conserve.’

“If you don’t buy gas when it’s $4.89 a gallon — even if it’s from a pump at my store — it’ll make the supply go further and it will make the price go down,” he said.

Currently, the only stations known in town with gas is the Sun Valley Inland station in River Falls and the Murphy Oil, located next to Wal-Mart, which is selling gas at $3.99 a gallon.