Fuel prices soar with shortage: “Gas shortages and price increases spread across the Valley on Tuesday as a key gasoline supply line to the Valley remained shut for the sixth straight day, with no estimate of when it would return to service.

Costco’s gas station on West Montebello Avenue was out of gas and closed Tuesday morning. An unexpected shipment allowed the station to open with regular gas only in the afternoon, but it wasn’t expected to last long.

Customers seeking premium drove off or bit the bullet and pumped regular into their Lexuses and BMWs.

‘Regular’s OK, it just performs better with premium,’ said Dave Fazio, a Phoenix Infiniti owner. Fazio was topping off his tank because he was concerned the shortage could spread.

Atlantic Richfield began trucking gas to Phoenix from Tucson on Tuesday but was having trouble lining up enough trucks to supply its 77 Valley ARCO stations.

“All of our stations have experienced disruptions of one form or another,” said Dan Cummings, a spokesman for Atlantic Richfield.

Gov. Janet Napolitano is expected to ask state employees today to conserve gasoline by car pooling and putting off out-of-town travel.

Across the Valley, prices jumped an average of 5 cents a gallon overnight, according to AAA Arizona. The automobile club pegged the average price of regular gas in Phoenix on Tuesday at $1.61 per gallon, up from $1.56 a day earlier. A cursory check of stations found prices were higher at many locations, however.

The price increases have been across the board, although the shortages have primarily hurt supplies of premium and mid-grade.

Houston-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners shut down its El Paso-to-Phoenix pipeline north of Tucson on Friday after tests showed defective pipe on a section of the line. The line supplies roughly one-third of the gasoline used in Maricopa County.

The defect was discovered after the line ruptured July 30, spewing 10,000 gallons of gasoline onto a Tucson-area construction site. The Arizona Corporation Commission, which oversees pipeline safety in the state, is investigating the problem along with the federal Office of Pipeline Safety.

Commission spokeswoman Heather Murphy said the state and federal regulators are scheduled to meet with Kinder Morgan on Thursday to discuss returning the line to service. Murphy cautioned that the meeting may not result in a firm date being set for the resumption of gas shipments.

“Our primary concern is safety,” she said.

Because premium and mid-grade fuels being shipped when the pipeline was shut, those are the products that are in the shortest supply. But independent stations such as Costco also have experienced shortages of regular.

Kinder-Morgan began making regular gas available in Tucson on Tuesday to be hauled by truck to Phoenix. The pipeline company said premium and mid-grade would be available today at its Tucson terminal. Gas also is being trucked in from California and Texas.

Kris Mayes, a spokeswoman for Napolitano, said that refineries in California have agreed to boost their production of the clean-burning summer gas that by law must be used in Maricopa County. The additional gas can be delivered via Kinder Morgan’s Los Angeles-to-Phoenix pipeline, which already supplies two-thirds of the Valley’s gasoline. But the additional supply isn’t expected to be available for five to seven days.

Some retailers have suggested that Napolitano temporarily suspend the clean-burning-gas rule so that non-formulated gas, which is immediately available, could be shipped to Phoenix.

Mayes said the governor wasn’t convinced that would solve the problem.

The current shortages reflect a bigger problem, an insufficient gas distribution system and the state’s dependence on out-of-state gas. State officials have stressed the need for additional pipelines and local refineries. Those solutions are years off.”

My my, I feel like I am in a time machine being sent back to the 70s. Power outages and gas shortages. Or is the real problem that the Bush Buddies (Big Oil) are cutting corners at the consumers’ expense?


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