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Fri, Feb. 22
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<I>Gas prices rise, some Phoenix stations dry</I><BR>Local effect likely limited to higher prices

PHOENIX — Motorists lined up for as long as several hours at some gas stations to top off their tanks. Others pulled up to gas pumps only to find they were dry.

A gas crunch that began more than a week ago in the nation's sixth-largest city seemed to come to a head for some Sunday as many drivers were left driving from station to station to find some fuel.

"I used half a tank of gas just trying to find gas," said Phoenix resident Hilda Duran, who said she stopped at six different stations before finally filling up. "It's crazy."

Some Phoenix stations have had trouble getting gasoline since Aug. 8. That's when the company that operates the pipeline that carries much of Phoenix's gas supply shut it down because of concerns that there could be more problems with the line, which had ruptured in the Tucson area in July.

Since the shutdown, trucks have been bringing gas up from Tucson, and officials said there is no shortage of gas. But a delay in deliveries has helped push prices up in the city, in some cases to around $2 a gallon in the Phoenix area.

In Northern Arizona, gas prices have not had such a dramatic increase but Kris Mayes, a spokeswoman for Gov. Janet Napolitano, said prices in the region likely will rise. She said trucks haul most of the gasoline for Northern Arizona from Phoenix. She added that consumers likely will foot the bill for the extra cost associated with trucking the gas into Phoenix and then hauling it north.

Mayes also stressed that gas prices should return to normal after the pipeline re-opens.

The governor's office and AAA Arizona suggested the troubles Sunday stemmed from distribution problems, not actual shortages.

AAA Arizona spokeswoman Kim Pappas-Miller warned drivers not to panic.

"There is fuel coming into Arizona at the same amount as two weeks ago. It is just extremely slow," Pappas-Miller said.

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