March 26, 2014 Edition

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Closing of refinery
affects local stations

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Local gas stations may have trouble obtaining gasoline and diesel fuel over the next month. According to Jamie Jones, manager of the Citgo JP Flash Market in Portia, the Valero Memphis Refinery, a major crude oil distributer for the area, will be closed for repairs until May 1.

Valero supplies to many distributors in the area, and due to the temporary shut down, orders have been slowed as crude oil has to be brought in from other locations, according to Jones.

Jones said that her station has been resupplied but there have been times when they were completely out of diesel within the past few weeks. Jones said that she is one of the more fortunate ones and others are hurting from the shortage far greater than her station is.

Robert Shelton, owner of Robert's Service Center in Portia, said that he completely ran out of gas on Saturday and has very little diesel left. He made multiple calls on Monday to distributors in Little Rock and Memphis but everyone he contacted was also out.

Robert's Service Station is privately owned, and he orders his fuel through independent distributers. According to Shelton, calls to his distributer has led him to believe that Valero's first priority is to supply to its bigger, branded clients, and this has left independent distributers short.

This provides a major issue for Shelton since he is only able to order through independent distributers. He said that he has had diesel on order for two weeks and still has no idea when he'll get it.

"It's hard to run a service station with no gas, and it's hard to explain that you have no gas to your customers," Shelton said.

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