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SE U.S. gas shortage may last a month

ATLANTA, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Gasoline shortages from Atlanta to Nashville were expected to last two to four weeks, an industry executive said Monday.

Conflicts between drivers and cars running out of gas while waiting in long lines are the result of back-to-back refinery shutdowns that occurred because of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, USA Today reported Monday.

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The Southeast United States, having no refineries of its own, relies on gasoline deliveries through pipelines.

"In isolation, neither of these storms would have been that big a deal, because there's enough inventory (at stations) to make up the shortfall," Kenneth Medlock of the Baker Institute, told USA Today. "But there was a three- to four-week period of refinery capacity not operating. That's basically a month when nothing's being produced," he said.

Executive Director of the North Carolina Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Gary Harris said "panic buying fueled by media coverage of the shortage" was part of the problem.

North Carolina Petroleum and Convenience Marketers supplies about 90 percent of the gasoline sold in the state.

Harris said it would take up to a month before the supply can catch up and end the shortages.

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