As the Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Ike’s devastation, predicted with the landfall expected late tonight, the Southeast is feeling effects of the storm in a different way —— mainly in the gas tank.
In anticipation of the storm, oil refineries in Texas have closed, leaving the Southeast with a demand problem that will cast a shadow on gas prices through the weekend and possibly into the beginning of next week. While some gas stations are continuing to buy at high prices, other local venders are not.
Greg Woolard, vice president of the Clyde's gas station chain, said he's not going to buy any more gas until prices go down even if it means running out of gas.
"It's a heck of a mess," Woolard said. "But there's nothing we can do. We pull our product from the Gulf Coast, so there's going to very little supply. This weekend's going to be very tight."
Woolard is positive that gas prices will hover in the $4-$5 range throughout the weekend even if the hurricane doesn't harm the refineries because it takes time and energy to get the product running again. But, he said, if refineries are spared, then prices should drop fairly quickly next week.
If the storm damages refineries, prices will most likely remain high.
"It's really a wait and see type of situation," Woolard said. "If it tears everything up, prices may keep on truckin'."
Spokesmen for other area gas stations either had not returned phone calls Friday or asked that they not be named. Most said they will continue to buy gas at high cost as long as it's available, but say there is no guarantee gasoline will even be available.