July 21, 2005 Less than a month after its pumps ran dry last time, Domino Gas is again on empty.
"It could be up to two weeks before Domino has gas," Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Andrew Rutnik said Thursday.
The Domino gas stations on St. Thomas and St. John began running out of fuel several days ago, he said.
Myrtle Barry, manager at E&C gas station on St. John, which sells Domino gas, said the station ran out at 6 p.m. Wednesday. She said she expects a fuel delivery at 7 a.m. Saturday because she's located another source.
There was no answer at the Domino gas station in Coral Bay.
While it will inconvenience some St. Thomas drivers accustomed to getting gas at a Domino station, it will have a huge impact on St. John. Two of the island's three gas stations carry Domino fuel.
Rutnik said that if everyone starts getting gas at Cruz Bay's Texaco station, the area would face a big traffic jam. In fact, that's what happened when the two Domino stations ran out in June. Robert O'Connor Jr., who owns the Texaco station, could not be reached for comment.
Rutnik said this shortage happened because the fuel barge that transports the gas from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas is in drydock for a routine U.S. Coast Guard inspection. In June, when Domino also ran out of fuel, the barge was overdue for inspection, causing the Coast Guard to stop it from operating.
Rutnik said there isn't a crane in Puerto Rico big enough to lift it, so the barge had to go to the Dominican Republic.
He said Domino is trying to buy fuel from Texaco and Esso, but he isn't sure if the company will be successful. The company is also trying to rent, lease or buy another barge, he added.
"But he's having a hard time," Rutnik said of owner Caesar Cortez.
Domino manager Sam Benjamin didn't return a phone call requesting comment. Additionally, no one returned phone calls left at Texaco and Esso companies.
Rutnik said the current fuel truckers action in Puerto Rico won't impact Domino because the company has its own barge and trucks.
He said that both Esso and Texaco buy their fuel from Hovensa on St. Croix. It is not shipped through Puerto Rico.
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