Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gas shortage no threat, but prices may rise

Expect some lingering spot shortages of fuel at area gas stations, but no real threat of a gasoline shortage or runaway fuel prices, independent analysts and distributors say.
Still, several storage terminals in the Nashville area remained shut down because of high water, and fuel wholesalers were scrambling to haul in gasoline and diesel from distant locations to avoid bigger problems later this week.

Exxon Mobil, Marathon Petroleum Co., Citgo and BP Products North America said that their area storage terminals were still closed late Tuesday.

Sherry Boldt, a spokeswoman for BP, however, said that its local terminal could reopen by noon today. Marathon said it had shut down its two fuel storage terminals here and was redirecting customers to bring in gasoline from other terminals in Owensboro, Ky., and Knoxville.

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Mike Williams, executive director of the Tennessee Petroleum Council, which represents refineries and fuel suppliers, said it could take a while for two of the 10 fuel terminals in the Nashville area to reopen amid flooding and lost power.

Most of the others have either very minor damage or could be put back in operation no later than Thursday, Williams said.

Emily LeRoy, executive director with the Tennessee Fuel and Convenience Store Association, said fuel supplies looked adequate.

"We're getting plenty of supply in," said LeRoy, whose group represents wholesale fuel distributors and convenience store owners. "What consumers are seeing are some local distribution issues because of all the rains and closed roads."

Fernando Garay, a spokesman with Citgo, said that its Nashville terminal has been closed since Sunday.

On Tuesday morning, the company said there were signs of a chemical sheen on the water in the vicinity of the terminal. A contractor was called in to deploy a containment boom and cleanup efforts began.

Losses remain unclear

Many other businesses continued to deal with the after-effects of the weekend storms.

At Parman Energy, a fuel and lubricants distributor on Cockrill Bend Boulevard, the company's headquarters building remained partly under water, and a gasoline tanker was sitting halfway submerged Tuesday afternoon.

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