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Katrina's effect on avgas supply uncertainKatrina's effect on avgas supply uncertain

Hurricane Katrina

Katrina's effect on avgas supply uncertain

Man fueling an airplane

As the price of automobile gasoline skyrockets, and spot shortages of auto fuel are developing, members have been asking what will happen to aviation gasoline.

"We've called the major petroleum refiners to find out, but so far they haven't been able to tell us much," said Rob Hackman, AOPA manager of regulatory and certification policy. "There are some things we do know, however. So far, we haven't received any reports of aviation gasoline shortages."

You should call the FBOs at your destinations, however, to confirm that hasn't changed. You might also want to check price. While we haven't heard of shortages, we have heard of escalating prices, just as with automobile gasoline.

Based on what we do know about the industry, we wouldn't expect any immediate effects on the national supply of avgas. That's because any avgas that's going to be used in the next few months has already been refined and is in the distribution systems somewhere.

Avgas is a "boutique" fuel, meaning that less then a dozen refineries produce avgas, and most may only refine it on a limited basis each year. So they tend to produce about a six-month supply each time they reconfigure the plant for avgas.

We also know that at least one of the major Gulf Coast refineries currently off-line was not an avgas producer.

We can only speculate at this point about the long term. Much will depend upon the availability of crude oil and the national refining capacity. Some of AOPA's contacts within the industry have said that as they come back online, priority will go first to the greatest demand items - automobile gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, and jet fuel.

September 2, 2005

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