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Thu, April 25

Got Gas?<BR>Pipeline fails in early test as gasoline woes continue

A test on a four-mile segment of the line failed early Wednesday near Tucson, close to an area where the pipeline burst on July 30, said Rick Rainey, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners of Houston.

Kinder Morgan representatives told state officials that they are simultaneously working on two options for correcting the problem, Napolitano said. One includes substituting the line's damaged portion with new pipe. The other calls for bypassing the damaged segment by using another pipeline that normally carries jet fuel.

"They told me that they would move heaven and earth to have fuel available through the pipeline by Sunday night," Napolitano said. "It won't be 100 percent for a while, but it will be a substantial improvement."

A team of state officials was monitoring the repairs on the pipe in Tucson, Napolitano said.

The governor has questioned representatives from Kinder Morgan about why the company didn't monitor the aging line more closely and didn't have an effective backup plan.

Napolitano requested that Kinder Morgan document shipment schedules and the supplies it's provided to distributors by today after receiving conflicting information. She wants to determine if the company is making enough fuel available by other means or if the problem lies in the distribution system.

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted Napolitano's request to use conventional rather than cleaner burning gasoline in Maricopa County until the supply stabilizes. The waiver expires Sept. 19.

Phoenix will use the conventional gasoline that normally goes to other areas, but state officials will monitor communities outside the Phoenix area to make sure that they have enough, Napolitano said.

Federal regulations require gas stations in the Phoenix metropolitan area to use gasoline blended with ethanol or another additive to combat ozone pollution during the summer.

All of Arizona's gasoline comes through two pipelines operated by Kinder Morgan. The one running from Texas is now closed at Tucson. Another line running from California to Phoenix was shut down Wednesday after a truck crashed against it in San Bernardino, Calif.

Gas from that line was not supposed to arrive in Phoenix until Aug. 24, so the incident won't affect the area's immediate gasoline supply, Napolitano said.

Kinder Morgan shut down the pipeline from Texas on Aug. 8 because of safety concerns. It caused a break in the supply chain that seemed to come to a head over the weekend, with many gas stations running dry on Sunday.

Some stations remained wrapped with yellow caution tape Wednesday, but lines at other stations were moving faster. About 55 percent of stations surveyed by the Department of Weights and Measures had gas compared to only 35 percent Tuesday, Napolitano said.

"People aren't panicking as much because they are finding gas," said Carolyn Clay while filling up her boss' car on Wednesday. "Everyone feels safer at least for a few days."

On the Net:

Kinder Morgan: http://www.kindermorgan.com/

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