In Ike's aftermath, motorists face wide range of gasoline prices

At The Pump

September 16, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,brent.jones@baltsun.com

As gas wholesalers and Baltimore-area service stations continue to deal with the fallout caused by Hurricane Ike, consumers were faced yesterday with widely ranging prices as they filled up their tanks, from $4.15 at one location in Govans to $3.57 at another stop in Baltimore.

Industry analysts say the wide range in pump prices can likely be attributed to problems caused by a temporary shutdown of a major fuel pipeline, which might have affected some companies more than others.

The average price of a gallon of gas in Maryland shot up 17 cents over the weekend, to $3.69 as of yesterday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. In Baltimore, the average price rose 20 cents, to $3.68.

Several Sheetz stations in Frederick County ran out of gas over the weekend after Colonial Pipeline, a major distributor for the Northeast that stretches from Texas to Maine, was forced to shut down Friday.

"Wholesale prices vary greatly," said Ragina C. Averella, a spokeswoman for AAA. "Therefore, prices differ from station to station. Until refineries restart their operations, we expect some supply issues not only in Maryland but across the country."

Officials from AAA Mid-Atlantic said Colonial Pipeline, which delivers an average of 95 million gallons of gas and diesel and other fuels daily to 12 states, including Maryland, restarted Sunday but at a reduced capacity.

Once the pipeline is fully operational and damage from the hurricane is assessed, gas prices might stabilize locally in the coming days, analysts say.

The gas spike came as no surprise to Laneice Brooks of Baltimore, who knew she'd likely be paying more after watching the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast.

"I usually look to get the cheapest gas, but I knew prices were going to be up, so I just came here," said Brooks, as she filled up her Cadillac Escalade yesterday at the Exxon at Mulberry and Greene streets.

Brooks said she hopes to see gas prices dip again soon, and she might have reason to be hopeful.

Oil prices closed below $100 a barrel for the first time in six months yesterday, tumbling more than $5 a barrel as the demise of Lehman Brothers and the sale of Merrill Lynch fed worries about the U.S. economy.

Crude has fallen more than $50 a barrel, or 35 percent, from its all-time trading record of $147.27 reached July 11, as a global economic slowdown continues to bring down demand for energy.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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