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Delivery of gasoline, not shortage, is problem

The snowstorm is disrupting all kinds of deliveries to parts of Western New York – including gasoline.

But people in the industry say there’s no shortage of gas – it’s a question of how soon trucks can reach the pumps to replenish stations’ tanks.

The storm has forced a number of convenience stores – and their gas pumps – to close due to driving bans and employees’ inability to get to work. And some locations were running short on gas as they awaited deliveries.

Even though travel restrictions have halted driving in many places, some residents wanted to fill up their snowmobiles, snowblowers or vehicles.

Two Noco Express Shops, in East Aurora and Orchard Park, were out of gasoline Thursday. The company was making attempts to replenish those locations, but had trouble getting its fuel trucks past vehicles stuck in the road, said Michael F. Newman, executive vice president of Noco Energy Corp. Noco was considering using smaller trucks – normally used to deliver home heating oil – to do the job, and hoped to make those deliveries overnight or today.

“East Aurora and Orchard Park are really just a matter of access problems,” Newman said.

Kim Canna, marketing director for Delta Sonic, said that two of the company’s area stores were closed Thursday and that the company was working to reopen one of them. “We have plenty of gas,” Canna said. The issue, Canna said, was clearing the properties of snow and making them accessible.

A handful of Tops Markets locations with fuel pumps in travel ban areas have been closed, or open intermittently, since the storm hit. “We recognize the need to be able to open up the fuel sites where we can have them open for their snow-throwing equipment or their vehicles,” said John Persons, senior vice president of operations.

But for Tops, supply was not an issue. The company was drawing gasoline from a fuel depot in the Town of Tonawanda. “Gas is flowing, fuel is flowing to our stores,” he said.

People saw ingenuity in action at a Tops store this week on Mineral Springs Road in West Seneca. Customers were filling up gas cans and dragging them home on plastic sleds to refuel their vehicles or snowblowers.

The Buckeye Terminal in South Buffalo had no shortage of fuel, which arrives via pipeline. The problem remained where trucks could haul the supply they retrieved, due to the storm’s aftermath.

For area residents able to buy gasoline, the average price in the region was $3.31 per gallon, down from $3.52 a month ago, but still higher than the national average of $2.85 per gallon, according to the AAA of Western and Central New York.