Gas prices soar

Published 10:29 pm Saturday, September 13, 2008

By Staff
Expected damage to refineries gets the blame for increases
Staff Writer
Gas prices around Washington increased sharply during the day Friday — or at least it did so at those stations with gasoline left to sell.
On Thursday, regular unleaded gasoline had been selling for roughly $3.60 per gallon. By midday Friday, the cheapest gas in town was nearly $4 per gallon, as Hurricane Ike smashed into Texas’ Gulf Coast near Galveston. That area is a major center in the United States for the refinement of petroleum into gasoline.
AAA of the Carolinas urged motorists to show restraint and stay away from gas stations Friday, warning that a run to the pumps could only exacerbate the problem.
AAA Carolinas president and CEO David Parsons said, in a prepared statement, the situation has caused “widespread panic.”
Danyelle Moore was working at the Travel Store at the intersection of U.S. Highway 264 and Neck Road near Beaufort County Community College.
The station’s supply had been exhausted when she came on duty about 2:30 p.m., she said.
Moore told people who came by or called that the station was out of gas.
The highest price the Washington Daily News was able to verify was at Cypress Station, at the intersection of N.C. Highway 33 and Old Blount’s Creek Road near Chocowinity. A gallon of regular unleaded there was $4.79, with premium gasoline fetching an extra 20 cents a per gallon.
Meredith Southworth, a teacher at Southside High School, said she didn’t like filling up and having to pay Friday’s high prices, but she had to because she was nearly out of gas.
Tom Thorne, a Rocky Mount resident who was in the area to check on his river house, said he blamed much of the run up in gas prices on media-induced frenzy.
At several stations, lines extended several cars deep at the pumps, but incidents of vehicles extending into roadways were rare.
Ward Grosz, a River Road resident, was trying to get past the gas pumps to the air hose at the Quality Plus gas station on U.S. 264 east of Washington.
He had a deflating tire, but he had to wait for motorists to fill up their vehicles before he could get to the free air.
Tim Toler was standing in line with his motorcycle. The PCS Phosphate employee and Bunyan resident said he started riding the motorcycle, which gets 41 miles per gallon, to work a couple of years ago to save gas and money.
A state of emergency issued by the state of North Carolina for Tropical Storm Hanna remains in affect, according to AAA. That means gas shouldn’t be sold for more than cost plus the profit margin that existed 60 days before the state of emergency was declared, according to AAA.
The state’s attorney general has announced that he will accept reports of price gouging from consumers. Washington City Manager James C. Smith said people wishing to report price gouging within the city should come to the city clerk’s office at City Hall beginning Monday and sign an affidavit concerning the prices they experienced. Those affidavits will be forwarded to the attorney general.