Governor’s office: Gas being rushed to WNC ***UPDATED***

Governor’s office: Gas being rushed to WNC ***UPDATED***-attachment0

*** UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler helped usher in a tanker-load of 8,800 gallons of gas at the CitiStop gas station on Biltmore Avenue Thursday afternoon. Shuler said he contacted Jim Haslam, the CEO of Knoxville-based Pilot Travel Centers and a long-time friend, and asked for a shipment to be delivered to Asheville.

Shuler said he’d been contacted by Scott Shealy, vice president at Citizens Fuel in Asheville, which operates 10 CitiStop stores and supplies another 20 stations, and worked out a delivery. The tanker truck arrived with a State Highway Patrol escort, a news helicopter buzzing overhead and other local politicians on hand. State Reps. Susan Fisher and Charles Thomas watched the proceedings, as did state state House candidate Jane Whilden.

Shuler said independent gas stations that sell unbranded gasoline are “at the back of the line” in terms of deliveries, and said he’s written a letter to the Federal Trade Commission to ask the agency to determine whether or not Western North Carolina has been receiving its fair share of gasoline.

Thomas said big oil companies should look at that allocation system and make sure it’s fair. Fisher added that the gas crunch is a harsh reminder “that there is not an infinite supply of gasoline. I think it’s a huge wake-up call.”

Shealy said the profit his company makes off selling the tanker of gasoline delivered Thursday afternoon will be split between MANNA FoodBank and Meals on Wheels. ***

The office of Gov. Mike Easley announced that additional fuel tankers carrying hundreds of thousands of gallons from Wilmington, Tennessee and South Carolina are being sent to the gas-starved region, as the major oil companies agreed to release more supplies.

A press release from the governor’s office said that hundreds of thousands of gallons of gas will be arriving in the area during the next two days. Easley thanked the oil companies, noting that he had no power to change their delivery routes and that their agreement has been voluntary.

The Charlotte Observer reported today that the Charlotte metro area is facing similar shortages. The gas crunch has even begun making news overseas.

The entire region has been hit hard by refinery shutdowns, stemming from hurricanes Gustav and Ike hitting the Gulf Coast area. That impact has been amplified by the fact that the area has more independent gas stations than other places. Independents get fuel from distributors only after major oil companies, such as Exxon, have been supplied.

At a press conference yesterday, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy criticized the governor’s office for not acting more quickly, asserting that “Western North Carolina needs to stand up and tell the governor how we feel. North Carolina doesn’t stop at Hickory.”

The full release from the governor’s office is below.

— David Forbes, staff writer

———————————————————————————————

GOV. EASLEY ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL GAS SHIPMENTS HEADED
TO NORTH CAROLINA

RALEIGH – Gov. Mike Easley announced this afternoon that substantial additional gasoline supplies have been released to North Carolina.

“The major oil companies have agreed to make additional gas supplies available to hard hits areas of our state, particularly western North Carolina,” said Easley.  “We are getting tankers from Wilmington, Tennessee and South Carolina terminals to bring hundreds of thousands of gallons of gas to those most in need.”

The governor said the additional gallons of gas will be available over the next two days.

“I am grateful to the oil companies for trying to get gas to our people.  They do not have to make these changes in their delivery routine and I have no power to make them.  They have agreed to do this voluntarily,” Easley said.

“I have a lot of staff working very hard on this and am asking people to be reasonable and cooperative with each other.  Conserve for a few more days and we will be fine.  We are going to continue to work hard to get every possible gallon of gasoline to the locations where it is needed.”

The gas shortage that was caused by refinery shutdowns during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike has been worse in rural areas of North Carolina because those areas tend to have more independently-owned gas stations.  The independent stations typically do not have long term contracts for gasoline delivery, while stations that carry major brand names do have contracts.  The independents run out of gas first, consequently it is important that the brand companies have come through with extra fuel for the state.

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13 thoughts on “Governor’s office: Gas being rushed to WNC ***UPDATED***

  1. Step Child

    I have to agree with Mayor Bellamy on this one. When it comes to State government, Western North Carolina is the Red Headed Step Child. We get the seconds and thirds left over when the folks from Hickory and to the east get their fill.

  2. lunchbox

    So Easley is friends with a bunch of Oil executives…..that makes me feel so much better.

  3. CAAF

    Sounds like a lot of pomp when a truckload of 8,800 gallons provides gas for how many people? My math may be faulty but what, 600, 700 people can fill up with that?

    So a real arrival of the cavalry? Or just a photo-op for Shuler? We look to Xpress to ask. Other tankers are said to be on the way, but how many, when arriving? AC-T reports 5 to 7 days, which sounds like the original timetable for return. Did Shuler really speed anything? Did Easley?

    In East Asheville, still no gas. So it’s frustrating to wake up with headlines blazing of relief when there has been none.

  4. Ezekiel

    Don’t know if this is true, but according to a story on local TV news, part of the problem in WNC is that there are more independent gas stations and fewer corporate ones, and the oil companies supply their franchisees first. It’s that darned WNC independent streak!

  5. Ken Hanke

    In East Asheville, still no gas. So it’s frustrating to wake up with headlines blazing of relief when there has been none.

    When I came home on 70 last night (or this morning) there was gas — and no line (granted, it was 2 a.m.) — at the BP station at exit 55, and it looked like the same was true at the Citgo across the street.

  6. Jon Elliston

    The city of Asheville, Buncombe County and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce issued an update on the gas situation this afternoon (Friday). The full text is below.

    September 26, 2008 NEWS RELEASE
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Release from City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and the Asheville Area
    Chamber of Commerce

    Fuel supply issues are easing somewhat with recent increases in available gas. The
    City of Asheville, Buncombe County, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, and other
    elected officials continue to communicate with oil industry officials and government
    leaders to ensure increased gas allotments reach Western North Carolina.

    Here is the most recent update:
    • Promised additional fuel supplies are reaching Western North Carolina right now.
    While the situation continues to improve each day, it’s possible that gas
    allotments may vary somewhat during the next week as the oil industry attempts
    to satisfy the needs of this region in addition to other communities in the South.
    • The Chamber and government leaders ask residents to continue to look for ways
    to conserve and reduce consumption in the coming days. Motorists should
    refrain from topping off tanks as this unduly exacerbates the situation by creating
    abnormal demand.
    • Station owners are working diligently to create a calm, efficient process for
    motorists waiting for fuel. Residents should understand that, in some cases,
    stations are choosing to limit purchases in order to ensure more customers are
    able to have access to fuel.
    • Officials report that flow through the Colonial Pipeline is increasing daily and that
    more refineries in the Gulf Coast are coming back online. The City, County, and
    Chamber will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates the
    community.

    We encourage all residents to continue to eliminate non-essential trips, car pool when
    possible, and take advantage of alternate transportation such as public transit
    (ashevillenc.gov), walking, or bicycle riding while the situation stabilizes.

    For up-to-date information on the gasoline shortage, please visit
    http://ashevillenc.gov/news/current_news/

  7. Jon Elliston

    And Gov. Easley’s office issued a statment today as well — the text is below.

    For Release: IMMEDIATE Contact: Renee Hoffman
    Date: September 26, 2008 Phone: 919/733-5612

    GOV. EASLEY UPDATES GAS SHIPMENT INFORMATION

    RALEIGH – Gov. Mike Easley today issued the following statement updating the gas situation based on reports he has received from the oil companies and officials from the Colonial Pipeline:

    “The fuel situation is improving. Fuel terminals on the Colonial Pipeline are being refilled and gas stations are being resupplied. As we move into the weekend, the supply situation should stabilize, with adequate fuel for normal conditions. Nevertheless, I urge everyone to use common sense measures. If everybody tries to keep their tank full all the time, demand will surge and we will create an artificial problem. It is always wise to use reasonable conservation measures.

    “We have been told that the situation in western North Carolina has improved substantially because the Spartanburg terminal received a shipment last night and that gas is getting to stations today.

    The shipment that was expected at the Charlotte terminal is arriving this afternoon and the companies have promised to get tankers from the terminal to their stations as quickly as possible. The oil companies tell us that the Triad, Triangle and eastern North Carolina should have an adequate supply provided demand is normal and no hoarding occurs.

    “We have been through a rough couple of weeks. Two hurricanes, one right behind the other, and a fire, shut down the refineries that supply fuel to the east coast. Gas supplies should get back to normal and our tempers should too.”
    ###

  8. Marcia

    If there wasn’t an election coming up, Easley still wouldn’t even know we were out of gas!

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