An allegation of price gouging was made against more than one local fuel provider as reports emerged of prices rising above the $5 mark at those locations jumping by more than a dollar per gallon Friday morning.
Murphy USA at Wal-Mart was just one station that became overwhelmed with consumers but moderated price within government madates. Some motorists waited up to 45 minutes for a fill-up. Some drivers dished out over $100 for a fill-up as gas prices were already approaching $4 at around noon on Friday.
Prices had already reached $4.90 in locations throughout Asheville and Statesville Friday afternoon.
Rudd Bare, 70, expressed his astonishment of the rising prices and the seemingly endless lines of cars waiting to fill-up at Murphy’s.
“I haven’t seen anything like this since the gas crisis of the 1970s,” Bare said. “I came to get gas because I heard that they may be running out soon.”
While motorists continued to converge on local gas stations, AAA officials urged drivers to use restraint until the conclusion of the weekend so the impact of the oncoming storm can be assessed.
David Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas attempted to ease the anxiety of motorists when he issued a press release Friday afternoon.
“The fear of what might happen if these refineries are severely damaged has caused widespread panic resulting in some stations running out of product, some stations raising prices dramatically in anticipation of high fuel replacement costs and some stations trying to restrict the number of gallons being purchased,” Parsons said.
According to AAA, North Carolina is still under a state of emergency called for Hurricane Hanna. In essence, this means stations should not charge more for gasoline than what the gasoline in the ground cost the station, plus the margin of profit that existed 60 days prior the state of emergency declared.
“Until we know what the damage from Ike is, people should remain calm,” Parsons urged. “If damage is minimal, then prices should come down fairly quickly, if damage is severe, there are various options that can ensure adequate supply, such as getting product from the nation’s Strategic Oil Reserve and asking nearby oil producers to increase output.
“We are urging motorists to eliminate unnecessary trips this weekend, use the family car that gets the best gasoline mileage and wait to see what damage Ike actually inflicts,” Parsons said.