The question of whether Chalmette Refining will again produce ethanol-free gasoline and how much might be available in Southeast Louisiana is murkier than ever after a Thibodaux distributor was told by someone familiar with the inner workings of the refinery that public pressure had convinced the refinery to bring a lane of conventional gas back online.
However, that claim was denied Thursday by refinery spokesman Patrick Trahan.
“The story is as we spoke to you guys before,” Trahan said. “I’m not making any new statements regarding it. That’s a rumor. It’s an inaccurate rumor.
“The story has not changed.”
In a May 7 article on LouisianaSportsman.com, Trahan said the refinery never intended to cease production of ethanol-free gasoline on May 15 as had been reported online.
“My statement is very simple,” Trahan said then. “We will continue manufacturing conventional-grade gasoline which will be sold into the commercial market.”
However, an email obtained that day by Louisiana Sportsman from Chalmette Refining to Placid Refining Company in Port Allen indicated conventional gasoline would not be available from the refinery after June 4.
And then earlier this week, Al Waguespack, president and owner of Waguespack Oil in Thibodaux, said he had a recent phone conversation with someone at the refinery who said plans were to bring back a lane of conventional gas.
“That’s what he told me,” Waguespack said. “He said they were in discussions and they had so much public outcry that they were probably going to put one lane of conventional gasoline back online.”
The person he spoke with was working at the refinery, and had called Waguespack with a request to borrow one of his tankers for a project he was working on.
“I don’t know who he works for or if he’s a contractor, but he was doing the work and he’s the one I spoke to,” Waguespack said. “He just said he works for them. I don’t know if he works for them as a contractor on their payroll. I don’t know. He needed my trailer to clean lines, and I said I can’t spare one.
“He went on, and said they were meeting about putting it back in. If it goes further than that, I don’t know, but I’ve got a feeling they’re going to put a lane of conventional gasoline back. I think that’s going to happen.”
Waguespack said the refinery was currently closed as it makes the conversion to ethanol gas, but he said he expected it to reopen by the end of the month.
“I’m sure when they reopen the refinery they’ll send us a notice, and hopefully they are going to have conventional gasoline on that notice,” he said.