Spot gas shortages, but enough for weekend

Sept. 3, 2005 at 6:58 PM

NEW YORK, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Spot gasoline shortages have been reported at gas stations across the country heading into the three-day Labor Day weekend.

Industry officials and analysts said there should be plenty of gasoline inventories to meet demand if there is no panic buying. At the end of last week, the country had about 194 million barrels of gasoline, and on average Americans consume about 9.3 million barrels, the New York Times reported Saturday.

"The key thing that I can't answer is will consumers act appropriately," said John Felmy, chief economist of the trade group American Petroleum Institute. "If they decide to rush the system, it can't handle it even in the best of times."

Industry officials said consumers would probably determine if they and their neighbors could get home on Monday from the holiday weekend without too many headaches.

"The real downside of this hysteria is that people hear rumors about outages in other towns and rush out to gas up, thereby increasing the likelihood of gas lines and outages in their own town," said Justin McNaull, a spokesman for AAA in Washington.

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