Pipeline Shutdown Raises Local Fuel Prices

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A gasoline pipeline that shut down last Wednesday between Phoenix and Tucson remained unopened as of Friday morning and is causing shortages, price increases, and consumer irritation around the state.

Payson is no exception.

The Safeway gas station on Highway 260 ran completely out of gas Wednesday afternoon and reopened late Thursday morning to a crowd of waiting customers.

"I'm not sure it's really a shortage," Christopher Creek resident Jack Hidde said as he filled up his tank. Hidde, one of the station's first customers after reopening, said he questions the motives of gas companies, who raise their prices whenever they can.

"As long as they can gouge the customer, they just go ahead and do it," he said.

Payson resident Carol Calhoun also was at the Safeway station when it reopened. She said she was unhappy with the price increases, but that at least Safeway was not as expensive as Texaco.

"I've boycotted Texaco," she said. "They seem to have the most expensive gas."

Mid-town Texaco manager Shawna Dunnington said high prices don't stop customers from buying her gas.

"We're sitting pretty good right now," she said. "We stay busy. We have a lot of business."

Texaco prices have risen 15 cents since the pipeline shutdown last week.

Ponderosa Springs resident Leonard Davenport was at the Chevron station on Highway 260 Thursday afternoon topping off his tank.

"I don't think it's right (to raise prices)," he said. "Any other business would have to take a loss if something goes wrong. But with gas, something happens and it seems we all have to pay for it."

Chris Hiatt, Chevron manager, said the station ran out of unleaded plus and premium gas Thursday morning and only was able to offer unleaded regular.

The Giant gas station across the street faced a similar situation but for different reasons.

Manager Dan Ayala said unlike most companies experiencing plus and premium shortages, he ran out of unleaded regular Thursday morning because of a late shipment from New Mexico, where Giant buys much of its gas.

Prices at his station went up 3 cents as of Thursday because of extra shipping costs from New Mexico, not because of the pipeline shutdown, Ayala said.

Dale Strothman, manager of Circle K-North on the Beeline Highway, said the station's prices have risen 7 cents in the past two days alone.

The pipeline was shut down by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners last week when it was discovered to be defective. It is unclear at this time when the pipeline will be reopened or exactly how much gas prices will continue to rise.

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