Ike sends Mid-South gas prices soaring

Gas prices in the Mid-South are soaring as a result of Hurricane Ike, and prices are all over the place.

"Some people are taking advantage of the situation," said customer Keith Aubele.

Regular Gas is $4.69 at a station on Lamar Avenue and Shelby, while it's $3.99 at another station just across the street. With such big price differences, many customers feel stations are price-gouging.

"Unfortunately, it's out of control," said a customer traveling from Little Rock to Atlanta, who says he has seen vast price differences on route. "Where's the regulation? It doesn't make any sense to me."

But the American Automobile Association says gas station owners are actually going out of their way not to gouge prices.

AAA Communications Director Randy Bly says the wholesale price of gas is $4.85, which means station proprietors could legitimately charge $5.45 a gallon. It turns out many stations are actually eating the cost. But that's not easing customer's frustrations.

"Let's face it, they don't want to loose their customers," said Bly. "And they don't want to be accused of price gouging. They don't want all those headaches."

Many stations are out of gas because, not wanting to charge customers higher prices, they're holding out for prices to drop before purchasing more. Others are closing up shop until prices go down.

Bly says prices should stablize in the next week or two depending on how badly refineries are damaged by storms.

Even if the damage is bad, Bly says other refiners will increase production, and importation will increase to balance things out. He warns people not to "panic buy", which will only make things worse.

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