Gasoline flowed through a major Arizona fuel artery again Sunday, but don’t expect prices to drop soon — especially with Labor Day weekend approaching.
"It’s all pretty high, but it’s pretty high all over the country," Gov. Janet Napolitano said. "As more supply comes into the Valley, hopefully we’ll see prices level off."
Gas prices in Maricopa County rose an average of 30 percent during the shortage, according to the governor’s office.
A Tucson-to-Phoenix pipeline operated by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners began to pump again at 8:20 a.m. Sunday by using a bypass.
The line, which provides about 30 percent of the Valley’s gasoline, has the capacity of about 35,000 barrels per day of fuel, compared with about 54,000 barrels per day before it ruptured July 30. The company temporarily shut it down Aug. 8 for repair.
By Aug. 17, gas station pumps were swathed in yellow tape, and stations that did have fuel were jammed with block-long lines.
By Sunday afternoon, 98 percent of Valley stations had gas again, the governor’s office reported, compared with 44 percent at one point during the shortage.
"Now that we’re out of crisis mode, we can dig and find how it happened so it doesn’t happen again," Napolitano said. "Kinder Morgan has a lot to answer for. They have to answer why this happened. They have to answer for why it took so long to get the bypass going and gas running. They have a lot to answer for to consumers."
Larry Pierce, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, said Sunday he was not going to trade negative comments with the governor.
"We worked with the governor very closely and did everything we could to get the pipeline back in service as fast as we could," he said.
"We have been working nonstop to increase gasoline volumes to our Arizona customers, with safety as our top priority," Tom Bannigan, president of Kinder Morgan’s products pipelines, said in a statement released Sunday.
The Tucson-to-Phoenix line, combined with the full capacity of the West Line, which brings in an additional 121,000 barrels per day from Los Angeles, should be more than enough to satisfy the Valley’s gas needs, the company said.