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    Gas Ration Rumor Sparks Business in Florida

    State officials insist there are no supply issues.

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- Despite Florida representatives insisting that there are no immediate gas supply problems and no plans for a ration, gas stations were swamped all weekend with people concerned about Hurricane Ivan and a stubborn gas ration rumor, reported The Ledger.

    There could be shortages at individual stations because of problems with truck transportation, officials said.

    "We don't have a shortage," said Jim Smith, president of the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. "We've increased demand threefold. And you're going to have a situation where stations run out."

    To explain how much gas is being used, Smith said that Florida consumes about 9 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel during a typical year. He said just in the 96 hours after Hurricane Frances, the industry moved 500 million gallons of fuel. And for the full 10 days after the storm, he estimated that a billion gallons could be moved. Much of that would come in preparation for Ivan.

    Ken Allen Jr., vice president of Mid State Energy Inc. in Lake Wales, said his company supplies gasoline to about 100 stations in Central and Western Central Florida. He said he is aware that some stations have been running low or even out of gas.

    "The supply situation seems to be OK," Allen said. "The problem is in the transportation. There just aren't enough trucks to satisfy all of the demand."

    He said where some stations typically sell 2,000 gallons a day, they are now selling 7,000 to 8,000 gallons a day. Stations that usually need deliveries every few days now need them every day.

    Allen said everyone is doing what they can, but there is just no way to prevent stations from running low or out -- even among his own stations. "On any given day, we have 10 to 15 stations that are out of gas because of the demand," he said.

    Smith said people buying fuel for generators and other vehicles are exacerbating the demand problem. He said several companies and governmental agencies, particularly emergency management folks, are buying more gasoline than usual to have on hand. "Everybody is stockpiling it," he said.

    Despite the shortages, representatives from the Florida and Polk County emergency operations centers said there is no fuel ration.

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