NW: Refinery maintenance causes gas shortage

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Refinery maintenance causes gas shortage


SEATTLE – On a Friday night the start of a holiday weekend, Gary Baldwin has to tell his customers he's out of gas.

“I'd better start counting the product I got and the way that thing I've worded, I really don't know where the hell I'm at,” says Baldwin.

The bad news came Friday in a letter from his gas supplier Equilon.

The company announced it's allocating gasoline - cutting 25 percent of shipments to Texaco and Shell stations across Washington and Oregon.

“I gotta tell 25 percent of the people to start with to go to hell. I can't serve them any longer. And that hurts,” says Baldwin.

So why the gas shortage?

Equilon says it's all because of maintenance at its Anacortes refinery.

“This is an unscheduled, unanticipated reduction in gasoline supply. We have the maintenance and it's just unfortunate that it's occurred over Labor Day weekend,” said Cameron Smyth of Equilon.

On Friday at Baldwin's Texaco station at 55th and Sandpoint Way, customers pulled up to the pump and were surprised to see it shut down.

“Very surprising, haven't seen that happen since I've lived in Seattle,” said one.

At this rate, Baldwin stands to lose 25 percent of his business. And he faces the possibility of running out of gas every day.

“I will open at 6 a.m. and start selling gas and keep selling as long as my allocation lasts,” says Baldwin.

Equilon wouldn’t say how many gas stations are affected by this allocation or how long it's going to last.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 01, 2001


This is a very small output refinery and so it is amazing its shutdown for "unexpected maintenance" has such far reaching effects. A friend tells me there is a large leak in a main cracking tower. Maybe this is indicative of how much on a razor's edge this country is with regard to energy reserves.

-- Phil Maley (maley@cnw.com), September 01, 2001.

Does the state of Washington require special additives, such as California, that limits or prohibits the importation of fuel from out of state?

-- Lynn Goltz (lynngoltz@aol.com), September 02, 2001.

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