Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

TOP STORY >> Gas prices skyrocket

Leader staff writer

Gasoline jumped more than 25 cents a gallon from Monday night prices to Tuesday prices, and they were still rising Tuesday.

A Valero station on First Street in Jacksonville was at $2.599 per gallon of regular gas at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and two hours later the price was up to $2.699.

The commercial gas station on Little Rock Air Force Base even ran out of regular gasoline Monday.
Gas prices Tuesday ranged from $2.499 at Dude’s on Highway 38 in Ward to $2.799 at the Flash Market on Highway 367 in Cabot.

Most clerks quoted their prices using the words “at the moment” or “at this time.”
One said her station went up 15 cents Monday and another dime on Tuesday. Most couldn’t say if there was going to be any leveling of prices soon, but did agree that prices weren’t going down soon.
The Citgo on Marshall Road experienced a very busy night Monday. “It kicked our tail,” the clerk said. Monday night the price was $2.459, but Tuesday morning it jumped to $2.699.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service pumps at Little Rock Air Force base were out of regular unleaded Monday, according to Lt. Jon Quinlan, a base spokesman. The underground tanks have been refilled and “they don’t anticipate future shortage,” he said Tuesday.

In Jacksonville Tuesday the average price for a gallon of regular gas was $2.660. In Cabot it was $2.677. The BP station on Main Street in Jacksonville never did adjust their road sign Tuesday, which advertised regular gasoline at $2.459 (Monday night’s price), but as motorists drove up they saw paper notices taped to the pumps stating the price was really $2.669, a penny less than the Shell station on one side of Main and a penny more than the Hess station on the other side. The American Automobile Association daily fuel gauge report was outdated by mid morning. The AAA surveys more than 60,000 station across the nation and releases the information in the early hours of the morning. On Tuesday, it released its surveyed prices at about 3 a.m., showing that Arkansas’ average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.513, actually down about three-tenths of a cent from Monday.

For now, the gas and oil supply from wells and refineries in the gulf area is disrupted and even local Murphy Oil officials say it’s too early to how much damage has been sustained. “We have two platforms in Gulf of Mexico and a refinery at Gulf Shores,” said Mindy West, director of investor relations.
She said they don’t know the fate of those platforms or the refinery.

“If the refineries are damaged, we won’t be able to replace that without raising the cost per barrel,” said West. “As for an actual shortage, it’s too early to know.

“New Orleans is one of our major ports with a lot of refinery capacity in the area,” said West. “We’ll know more in the next several days or week or two,” she said. “Wholesale prices are rising on the fear of extensive damage.”

(Leader staff writer John Hofheimer contributed to this article.)