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June 02, 1973 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1973-06-02

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Saturday, June 2, 1973


Page Five

Gas shortage looms as
vacation season begins f

Associated Press- Writer
Like the unwelcome thump of
a flat tire, the reality of the gas
shortage now begins to bear on
the minds of motorists accustom-
ed to driving as though there
were always more fuel tomorrow.
Warnings went out early that
drivers who took to the high-
ways for the Memorial D a y
weekend might have to shop
around for gas to get home.
MOST OF THEM made it be-
cause there are still huge quan-
tities of gasoline available. But
the locked service stations and
gas rationing encountered by
many underscored that the sup-
ply is not quite enough.
Demand for gas has been in-
creasing seven per cent a year,
and traffic counts continue to
grow. At the same time, many
major oil companies say they do
not have enough crude oil and
have begun allocations to deal-
ers based on 1972 sales.
"Not many months ago we
were hounded by salesmen want-
ing to sell us fuel. Now you have
to scrounge all over the place,"
says Ray Alderson of Yellow
Freightways in Kansas City.
bids for fuel and get no replies.
State troopers in Florida h a v e
been ordered to cut back mile-
age. Taxi drivers in a Des
Moines, Iowa, fleet have been
told not to turn on their air con-
The effects of the shortage
have been felt or feared for
weeks by many whose livelihood
depends directly or indirectly on
motor fuel. But there is little
evidence that car owners have
curbed personal driving.
Most drivers contacted in an
Associated Press survey s a i d
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they did not plan any change in
driving habits or vacation plans.
The question is whether they will
have to.
"I COULD SELL about twicz
what they're allocating to me, '
notes Norman Smith, a Texa.o
station operator in Littleton,
Colo. "I guess I can give fill-
ups to my regular customers,
but I'll have to limit the rest to
10 gallons."
A handful of stations were lim-
iting customers to five gall s
over the weekend. Many inde-
pendent and major stations have
cut back hours or closed Sun-
The Office of Emergency Pre-
paredness last week reported F8"
of the estimated 220,000 stations
in the country were closed for
lack of gas. Another 1,863 were
threatened with shutdowns, the
OEP said.
GENERALLY, the independ-
ents are most affected. They cap-
tured a quarter of the market
over the past decade by buying
surplus gas from major oil com-
panies and selling it at 2 to 1)
cents a gallon less than t h e
One federal official calls them
"a very helpful competitive
spur." Under a voluntary alloca-
tion plan that the administration
announced three weeks ago, the
major oil companies were urged.
to "share the shortage" among
their stations and the independ-
At least one industry leader
has urged the allocation program
be made mandatory. Support for
such a move comes from Ed
Kiley, vice president of the
American Trucking Association.
"CONGRESS HAS to decide
who is and is not going to get
petroleum. And unless something
is done quickly, we might not
have enough fuel to continue es-
sential trucking services," Kiley
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Similar warnings come from re-
presentatives of the construction,
airline and railroad industries.
Industry sources say the short-
age is essentially the result of
limited supplies of crude oil and
limited refinery capacity.
"WE'RE RUNNING every bar-
rel of cruel oil we can get in our
refinery," said Gulf Oil Corp.
President James E. Lee. "To my
knowledge, nobody is holding
back products and hiding it some-
where. Where would we hide it?"
An opposite view is voiced by
California Assembly Speaker Bob
Moretti, a Democrat. He notes
that U.S. refineries operated "at
less than 75 per cent capacity
last year" and listed record first
quarter profits this year.
Is it coincidence that the short-
age occurred "during a period
when the oil industry is pressing
for the Alaska pipeline, relaxa-
tion of other environmental safe-
guards, resumption of offshore
drilling . .. and preferential tax
loopholes?" he asks.
WHILE THE debate goes oa,
Illinois officials have set up a
hot line for farmers needing fuel.
An Iowa gas tank company is
selling more storage tanks to
farmers than ever before.
Rep. W. R. Poage, (D-Tex.),
chairman ofithe House Agricul-
ture Committee, said hearings
have made it clear that the fuel
shortage threatens to "severely
curtail crop production." Ie has
urged the administration to take
stronger measures.
Lack of competition in bids for
bulk fuel supplies forced L o s
Angeles County to accept a lone
bid for gasoline at a 67 per cent
THE CITY ,of Long Beach,
Calif., which gets 1,20I barrels of
crude oil daily as royalty from
wells on municipal property, has
threatened to beat the squeeze
by refining its own gasoline.
The Southern California Rapid
Transit District, which carries
nearly 500,000 passengers daily
in the Los Angeles metropolitan
area, received no bids when it
advertised for 14.5 million gallons
of diesel,
The driving crunch lies ahead
this summer, and no one is sure
what will happen. Some indus-
try analysts predict the short-"
age will last into the mid 70s be-
cause it will take that long to
expand refinery capacity.

SEN. HENRY JACKSON (D-Wash) talks about the gas shortage at
a Capitol Hill press conference yesterday. Jackson spoke in favor
of the Emergency Petroleum Act of 1973, now pending before the
Senate. Some industry leaders have suggested that Congress must
act quickly to regulate the distribution of gasoline,
Methanol: An answer
to the gas crises?2

UPI Staff Writer
So far, methyl alcohol has
hardly been considered as a
lubstitute for gasoline. Why
haven't other energy experts
looked at it?
"I don't think they have put
two and two together yet," Rich-
ard Davison said in an interview.
"I don't think people have re-
alized we can have our cake
and eat it too, We don't have to
make any great economic sac-
rifice to get it, either."
DAVISON and W. D. Harris of
the Texas A&M University chem-
i c a 1 engineering department
made a study of methyl alcohol -
or methanol and came up with
surprising conclusions.
They found it has a higher oc-
tane rating than premium gas-
oline and probably could be sold
cheaper. Compression, ratios of
automobiles using it could be
raised, giving the automobiles
more power.
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201 Hill Street
Ann Arbor

Methanol can even be mixed
with water in certain amounts
without lowering efficiency or
THERE ARE drawbacks, but
none insurmountable. One draw-
back is that methanol is hard to
start in cold weather. Davison
thinks this problem could be
solved with carburetor or mani-
fold heating, or an additive, to
increase volatility.
Another methanol problem is
toxic vapors. Davison said that
higher latent heat characteristics
of alcohol reduce vaporization
and also of toxic fumes.
"Methanol can be made from
coal at a cost of 81 to 10 cents
a gallon. Reglil'sr gasoline now
is about 14 cents at the refin-
ery and premium is around 15
3 4 cents.
mile-ige is 55 per cent of what
you get with gasoline. But if
you took emission control de-
vices off, this should rise to
60 per cent. So at these prices,
methanol already competes
with premium gasoline.

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