Residents of a city in Alaska may soon by paying $9 for a gallon of gas -- making for an expensive winter.
The problem started for residents of Nome, Alaska, a city known for hosting the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, when the city got iced in after a major winter storm in mid-November. The storm stopped passage of a large barge that typically brings fuel to Nome, located along the Bering Sea.
The barge, the last schedule fuel delivery for the season to Nome, was scheduled to bring 1.6 million gallons of gas, diesel and heating fuel to the Alaska city but the early arrival of what is typically a harsh winter derailed those plans. So much sea ice has already formed that barge deliveries can't be made until the end of winter, and local officials are concerned that fuel inventories including gas will shrivel in the coming months, leading to exorbitant gas prices -- perhaps as much as $9 per gallon.
Currently, gas sells for about $5.90 in Nome, much higher than the national average. Nome Mayor Denise Michels said her city of 3,600 doesn't currently have a fuel crisis but it could happen by late winter or early spring, before the next delivery can be made in June.
(The gas price) is already high, Michels told Reuters. We can't take a hit. It's hard enough as it is for folks here, trying to get their gasoline.
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The chairman of Sitnasuak Native Corp., which gets fuel to Nome, said his company is working to find solutions. We are going to have to have fuel drivers picking up fuel 24 hours a day as flights are available to fly into Nome, said Jason Evans, according to The Associated Press. Ice is forming around the community and making a normal barge delivery impossible at this time.
Evans said Nome isn't in danger of running out of fuel since they can fly gas, diesel and heating fuel into the city. The only problem is that it will increase the cost, perhaps significantly. Some suggest that the cost per gallon of gas in Nome could increase this winter by $3 to $4 per gallon -- making the cost of a gallon of gas as high as $9.