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Hurricane may limit gas supplies in Wabash Valley

Monday, August 29, 2005

By FRANK PHILLIPS

frankphi@hotmail.com

Some residents in the Wabash Valley are having to shop around for gasoline -- and they can blame Hurricane Katrina.

WTHI-TV is reporting The 500 Platolene station near the intersection of 13th and Ohio in Terre Haute is out of gas.

The situation could spread to other stores that sell gasoline, though The Brazil Times could find no local stores that knew of an interruption in their fuel supply.

Spence/Banks Oil Co. in Terre Haute sells unbranded gasoline to individual gas outlets, such as convenience stores and municipalities. The fuel is then used by police, fire and sheriffs departments. Spence/Banks does not sell fuel to any municipalities in Clay County, said President Jim Owen on Monday afternoon.

Owen learned Monday morning that Marathon Oil Co., one of his suppliers, had decided to not sell any unbranded product until the hurricane had passed refineries in the Gulf of Mexico area near New Orleans.

"At this point, they are taking care of their own stations first," Owen said. "They have no unbranded fuel currently."

Owen has been on the telephone since 6:30 a.m. Monday trying to find alternate sources of fuel to sell to Spence/Banks customers. The company has, so far, been able to meet demand.

Owen has seen a similar situation arise -- on Sept. 11, 2001.

"When 9/11 happened, prices went up," he said. "It was a very similar situation."

Owen is confident that Marathon will once again supply fuel to his company.

"We're very confident that when the hurricane passes, everything might be up and running once again," he said.

The Brazil Times was unable to contact Marathon Oil for comment.



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