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Phoenix Fuel Delivery Is Set for Resumption

August 24, 2003|From Associated Press

PHOENIX — A crippled pipeline that has created gasoline shortages and fueled frustrations for days is on schedule to resume bringing fuel to Phoenix today, officials said.

Officials at Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, the company that owns the pipeline, said a test on a bypassed portion of the pipeline was successful Saturday.

Kinder Morgan spokesman Larry Pierce declined to specify when the pipeline would begin operating, but Gov. Janet Napolitano said she was told it would be working by mid-afternoon today.

But even after the line starts pumping gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to Phoenix, it will take a week or so before supplies are fully restored.

Trucked-in fuel, less panic pumping and more carpooling have helped ease long gas station lines.

Also, requirements that Phoenix use cleaner-burning fuel were temporarily eased, as were restrictions on the number of hours truckers can work.

About 76% of Phoenix-area stations surveyed by the Department of Weights and Measures had gasoline Saturday. During the gasoline crunch's worst time earlier in the week, only about one-third of the stations had gas.

"Whatever you're doing is working," Napolitano said Saturday during a visit to the state's emergency command center. "We have turned the corner."

She said more than half the state's employees in the Phoenix area reported carpooling to work Friday.

Widespread gasoline shortages and hefty price increases came to a head last weekend after the Aug. 8 shutdown of an 8-inch pipeline that brought fuel from Tucson to Phoenix.

The line, operated by Houston-based Kinder Morgan, supplies one-third of Phoenix's gas. Corrosion was blamed for the rupture of a section of the 48-year-old pipeline.

After the line failed an initial pressure test early Wednesday, pipeline officials decided to install a seven-mile bypass to circumvent the rupture point.

Gas prices in the Phoenix area remain significantly higher than the rest of the state. Gas prices Saturday continued to hover above $2, and AAA Arizona spokeswoman Kim Pappas-Miller didn't anticipate prices dropping before the Labor Day weekend.

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