Gas station running on empty

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- For the second time in a week, the Maxwell gas station ran out of gas Saturday.

The station, run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, is one of many stations in the Southeast suffering from supply problems caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the station first ran out of gas Sept. 16 for nearly 24 hours. Supplies of gasoline continued to stretch thin throughout the week until the tanks went dry Saturday.

Patricia Austin, AAFES general manager for Maxwell-Gunter and Fort Rucker, said the base's primary gasoline supplier has put all their customers on a weekly allocation until the supplier's refinery can get back up to full capacity.

"We are working diligently to remain in stock on gas, and we thank our customers for their patience," she said. "We have also gone to a back-up supplier for additional fuel to increase the amount of gas that comes to the base."

Ms. Austin said normally, Maxwell-Gunter and Fort Rucker receive 27 truck loads of gas per week, but under the allocation, they are receiving 17 truck loads per week, or about 60 percent of the normal supply. The primary supplier is hoping that will change by Wednesday.

"Also, in times of crisis, we go to crisis management pricing to help keep the base price lower than off-base prices," she said. "Our normal procedure is to survey five off-base gas stations in the immediate vicinity of the base once per day and match the lowest price. But, if we feel their prices are too high, we resort to the crisis pricing."

Ms. Austin said if AAFES feels the surveyed prices are out of line or price gouging is suspected, they do not use the survey price. The crisis management price goes into effect and is based on the margin from the week prior to the crisis. Once the crisis is over, AAFES will return to using the survey price.

First Lt. Brad Kimberly contributed to this article.