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Ethanol rules could make pure gasoline hard to find next month in Oklahoma

Gasoline that has not been blended with ethanol could get harder to find in central Oklahoma due to federal renewable fuel mandates.
BY JAY F. MARKS Modified: August 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: August 23, 2013

It could be harder to find “clear” gasoline next month in the Oklahoma City area. Or it just could be more expensive.

Federal requirements are forcing refiners to produce growing amounts of fuel blended with ethanol, endangering the supply of pure gasoline in the central part of the United States, including Oklahoma.

Major pipeline operators are preparing to move to shipping sub-octane gasoline that must be blended with ethanol or premium gasoline before it can be sold to consumers.

Gasoline sold at Oklahoma service stations must meet a minimum octane of 87.

OnCue Express CEO Jim Griffith said the lack of ethanol-free gasoline coming from refineries likely will increase the price of that product.

Griffith said most of the Stillwater-based retailer's customers prefer “clear,” or ethanol-free, gasoline. Some call it pure gasoline.

“We try to have the product our customers like,” he said.

That product could be getting more expensive.

Griffith said he expects the spread between pure gasoline and the 10 percent ethanol blend to grow to 25 cents a gallon or more.

“The bottom line is the spreads are just going to get bigger,” he said. “It's not a good situation for me or my customers.”

Tulsa-based Magellan Midstream Partners LP operates the longest pipeline system in the country for refined products. Its customers include refiners, petroleum traders and petroleum marketers.

Spokesman Bruce Heine said Magellan will no longer transport 87 octane gasoline, beginning Sept. 15, due to increased renewable fuel requirements.

“Magellan is doing what our customers want us to do,” he said. “We're supporting their needs.”

Heine said Magellan is modifying its Oklahoma City fuel terminal to enhance its ability to load “clear” gasoline for its customers.

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