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Storing Extra Fuel May Make Gas Situation Worse, Experts Say

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Crude oil and gas prices are rising amid fears Rita will smash into key oil rigs and refineries. In response, in the Triangle, gas cans are flying off store shelves as people save fuel in anticipation of a gas crunch.

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N.C. Petroleum Marketers Association

At the Home Depot in Cary, gas cans have already sold out. At the Ace Hardware Store on Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh, the shelves are still full, but gas containers are selling fast.

"With this new hurricane, we've kind of planned ahead for it and we've ordered more than we would normally and have them here just in case," Steve Guerrette, assistant manger at Ace Hardware Store, said.

"Just in case" seems to be the mentality many people have in the face of another potential fuel shakeup. Filling up gas cans is just part of it. People also are topping off their tank and then some.

But such practices may actually make the situation worse, experts said.

Employees at a convenience store on Leesville Road said they pump 3,000 gallons of gas on a normal day. On Tuesday, they doubled to 6,000 gallons, and the pumps ran dry.

On Wednesday evening, they were on pace to do the same thing. Two weeks ago, during the Katrina gas scare, it was a similar scene.

Industry leaders said the so-called gas hoarding can make a mild shortage far more serious.

"What hoarding tends to do is it depletes gas supplies. And as supplies are depleted, it can cause prices to rise," Gary Harris, director of the N.C. Petroleum Marketers Association, said. "So we would emphatically say to people, 'Don't panic.'"


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