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Fueled by frustration
Gas crunch shortens drivers' fuses
Gas Shortage 1 es
Employee David Conlon directs Richard Borgula to a pump Monday afternoon at BJ's gas station in Cumming. The line wrapped around the parking lot. - photo by By Emily Saunders

motorist frustration corrected

Click to hear one motorists opinion of the fuel shortage.

gas search 9-26-08

Watch a video of the wait for gasoline Saturday night in Cumming.

The hunt for gas and long lines at stations that have it could go on for up to two more weeks, officials say.

"But I think you'll start to see quite a bit of improvement by the end of this week," said Randy Bly, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South.

"We're hearing that the entire region that's affected in the Southeast will be back to complete normalcy by Columbus Day, which is Oct. 13."

Johnny Brooks, an employee at the Lakeland Plaza Chevron in Cumming, had received a shipment less than seven hours before he began turning cars away Monday.

Before the gas crisis, Brooks said that same 8,000 gallons of fuel would have lasted up to four days.

Business overall has been slow, he said, because "you sell more gas than you do stuff on the inside, and while this rush is on, nobody's even going in."

Joe Densmore, owner of Densmore Landscaping, was about 15 minutes late to receive the last of the Chevron's supply.

"It's been horrible," he said. "You can't find nothing to run your vehicles or run your lawnmowers, so you're in the same mess as everybody else," he said.

"The governor's sitting around. He's worried about being on vacation more than he's worried about doing anything about it."

Densmore, who said he's waited as long as 90 minutes for gas, wasn't the only one pointing a finger at Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Richard Borgula, who got gas after making it through a line circling the parking lot of BJ's Wholesale Club in Cumming, accused the governor of "sitting on his hands and doing nothing, knowing these prices were coming."

Perdue, who left Saturday for a six-day economic development mission to Europe, issued a request Monday to President George W. Bush to release crude oil from the strategic petroleum reserves.

But even if the request were approved, the crude would still take time to be processed by refineries and shipped to the metro Atlanta market.

The governor also responded to price gouging, which began last month before Hurricane Ike hit.

While availability remains a problem, gas prices continue to drop, down about 5 cents from last week.

Still, Georgia prices are nearly 30 cents higher than the national average of $3.65 per gallon.

"It hasn't been that bad," said Brenda Ison, while waiting Monday at BJ's. "Even though the line is crazy, it hasn't been that bad."

The state's gas shortage stems from back-to-back Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, hitting the Louisiana and Texas coast.

Refineries were shuttered to prevent damage. With the loss of power, though, most refineries haven't been able to come back online since the storms hit nearly three weeks ago.

The impact to most U.S. states has been minimal. But because 85 percent of Georgia's gasoline comes from Louisiana and Texas refineries, the state is left with few options other than waiting.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, four refineries remain offline because they lack power and five are in the process of restarting. Nine others have begun production, though operating at reduced capacity.

More than half the crude oil production still is out. Once power is restored, it takes more than six days to fully be up and running, Bly said.

"The gas supplies along the Gulf Coast terminals after Ike and Gustav were at the lowest levels since 1967," he said. "That's quite a statistic, and that's why we're seeing such a long time to get this turned around.

"A lot of the problem has also been people panic buying and hoarding fuel ... people need to remain at their normal levels of refueling."