A Valley fuel supplier continued to wait for federal approval to test a closed pipeline Friday while the average price of a gallon of gasoline rose 3 cents in the south East Valley, and 7 cents in Scottsdale, officials said.
Pumps at about 100 of the Valley's 300 Circle K Stores ran dry, a ConocoPhillips spokeswoman said, and more supply problems were expected into next week.
“We expecting intermittent outages at some of our retail sites over the next several weeks,” said Julie Igo.
Officials with Kinder Morgan, the company that owns the pipeline, said it did not know when federal approval for testing would come from the Office of Pipeline Safety.
“That's their decision," said spokesman Rick Rainey. “Based on the meetings we had with them (Thursday). . . they are definitely placing it on high-priority track.”
No one from the Office of Pipeline Safety could be reached for comment.
Once the company gets the OK, Rainey said it would take seven to 10 days before the pipeline is back in service. But the Arizona Corporation Commission, which oversees pipeline safety, said the line could be down as long as two weeks.
“I think as inconvenient as it may be for people, and as much as they may be concerned over the prices, the bottom line is nobody wants an unsafe pipeline either,” said Heather Murphy, commission spokeswoman. “This is a temporary inconvenience. We're doing everything we can to make it the shortest possible duration.”
Meanwhile, the average price for regular grade, self-serve unleaded increased 7 cents in Scottsdale to $1.77, said Yvette Lopez, AAA Arizona spokeswoman. Elsewhere in the East Valley, the cost was $1.70 on Friday, 3 cents more than Thursday. Statewide, the average went up 6 cents to $1.70 from $1.64. But some stations in Scottsdale were charging more than $1.90 for regular unleaded.
Lopez said the closed pipeline will continue to drive up prices.
The pipeline which starts in El Paso, Texas and runs through Tucson to the Valley, ruptured July 30. It supplies about half of the Valley's gasoline. While the line has been repaired, testing still needs to be done on as much as 30 miles.
The pipeline will be filled with water pumped through it at high pressure. The line won't reopen until the test results are reviewed by the Office of Pipeline Safety, Rainey said.
To make up the supply shortage, Kinder Morgan is increasing its deliveries from a pipeline that runs to the Valley from California. It is also trucking gas from Tucson. Murphy said pipeline testing is complex. For example, water run through the line will be contaminated and need disposal.
“You're talking about putting an awful lot of water over a 20-to 30-mile stretch of line,” she said.