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Gas shortage remains in other portions of the state

Venture too far away from the area, and it’s likely you’ll discover shortages at gasoline pumps.

The U.S. Energy Department has reported from Aug. 30 until Sept. 19, the nation lost about 46 million barrels of motor-fuel output because of Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike. The storms resulted in halting 20 percent of the nation’s refining capacities, which Bloomberg says reduced inventories to a 41-year-low.

On the home front, those numbers meant empty tanks at Raceway on Highland Avenue, forcing Patrick Hisel and his dad, Gene, to close down their business Sept. 20 — a Saturday — and one of the busiest days of the week for the independent.

“We didn’t have gas,” Patrick said, “until they came Sunday at 3 p.m., and we don’t open on Sunday.”

However, on Saturday, gas flowed from each of the two pumps on all three islands.

“We’re in full swing again,” Patrick said.

But other areas of the state continue to report gas shortages, especially around Birmingham.

Clay Ingram, a spokesman for AAA Alabama said motorists along the I-20 corridor would see some gas shortages this weekend. And those who went to Georgia for the Alabama game likely ran into shortages, limits on purchases at the pump and higher prices.

But there’s hope.

AAA reports more Gulf of Mexico refineries are on line after recovery from Ike, which means more gas flowing through pipelines in the Southeast, which has seemed to suffer the most.

AAA national reported Saturday that four of 17 Houston-area refineries are closed. The others have partial or complete output and some expect to increase the flow or go completely online over the weekend.

The increase in flow already helped with bringing down prices nationwide, according to the American Petroleum Institute, which reported Friday for the 10th time in 11 weeks the U.S. retail price for all grades declined.

The Institute’s fact sheet states the price of gasoline went down 11.5 cents or 3 percent from Sept. 15 to a national average of $3.772 per gallon — the largest decline since Sept. 25, 2006.

However, the national average hasn’t translated to Alabama and local pumps. AAA Alabama reported the average price of gasoline in the state for regular grade as $3.803; mid-grade, $3.977; premium, $4.087 and diesel, $4.121.

In Selma, the average cost to fuel a 15-gallon vehicle with regular-grade gasoline stood Saturday at $58.57. The area average for regular-grade per gallon on Saturday was $3.904, compared to the previous week of $3.980.