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Truck stops ration fuel

Travel Center truck stop in Cartersville, Ga.

Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck the oil-laden Gulf Coast, many of the nation’s truck drivers are encountering unprecedented fuel rationing as they brace for a spike in prices.

Wayne Kitchen, a Greer, S.C.-based driver for Bavarian Motor Transport, told WorldNetDaily he hasn’t seen a shortage of this kind in his 30 years in the industry.

“It’s scary,” he said, noting many independent truckers already are on the brink of financial ruin due in large part to record fuel prices.

“This is really going to put the icing on the cake for a lot of them.”

Like Kitchen, Michael Wade – a driver with PLT Enterprises in Bay City, Mich. – said his company informed him that truck stops were limiting each sale to 50 gallons while others allowed 100 gallons.

“For the next month it’s going to be rough out here,” said Wade, who uses as much as 140 gallons a day.

Tom Liutkus, a spokesman for TravelCenters of America, the nation’s largest network of truck stops, told WND that many of his company’s locations are limiting sales to 50 gallons per transaction because they have not received any product since Monday’s shutdown of the crucial Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Houston to Rhode Island.

“In order to stretch that out, I think a lot of [other companies] are doing the same thing,” he said.

The pipeline’s section from Houston to Greensboro, N.C., is not operating due to damage by the hurricane.

Terry Scruton of the 130,000-member Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association told WND he is aware of rationing in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

Scruton, a writer for the association’s Land Line magazine, confirmed that independent drivers who already are struggling from the recent rise in fuel prices will face a serious jolt in the days ahead.

Wade, who said he just filled up his 53-foot van-trailer in Charleston, Mo., was told by a truck stop attendant that the price of diesel fuel at that station will jump overnight from $2.70 to $2.90 a gallon.

Refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi, with a total capacity of 1.79 million barrels a day, also closed over the weekend.

Along with a loss of electricity, the pipelines and refineries are hampered by flooding, which may have damaged critical electric motors, according to industry officials who still are assessing the extent of the damage.

Earlier today, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced the country will tap its emergency oil reserve.

In an address to the nation this afternoon, President Bush made it clear the the hurricane’s impact will be felt nationwide.

“Our citizens must understand this storm has disrupted the capacity to make gasoline and to distribute gasoline,” he said.