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‘No need to panic’: Comm. Andy Gipson calms fears over buying fuel

The U.S. Colonial Pipeline said it expects to function properly by the end of the week days after a cyberattack shut it down.
Close-up image of a mens hand refilling the car with a gas pump
Close-up image of a mens hand refilling the car with a gas pump(WXIX TV)
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 12:38 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Days after a cyberattack shut down a fuel pipeline that runs through Mississippi, Commissioner Andy Gipson is trying to pump a little faith into people’s minds about our state’s ability to maintain fuel.

Gipson oversees the state department of agriculture and commerce.

“There is no need to panic,” Gipson said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The Colonial Pipeline, which supplies around 30 percent of the state’s gasoline, abruptly shut down operations Friday after the attack.

Once the news spread across Central Mississippi Monday, it sparked panic at the pump, causing long lines at many gas stations and, in some cases, shortages due to the demand.

The U.S. Colonial Pipeline said it expects to function properly by the end of the week, which is why Gipson encouraged everyone to buy what they need.

“Panic buying is counterproductive. The best things we can do are: 1) limit unnecessary travel, and 2) purchase fuel only as needed,” Gipson said. “I want to encourage the public across the state to purchase the fuel they need, but not overbuy or panic purchase fuel. Mississippi does not face a gas shortage due to the pipeline disruption, but panic buying could exhaust, and in some cases has already exhausted some local station supplies,” he added.

Governor Tate Reeves echoed the commissioner’s sentiments in a Twitter post.

This particular pipeline is the largest in the U.S. and runs from Texas through Mississippi up the East Coast.

“The East Coast and landlocked states without refineries may see disruptions. You’ll see it on the news, I’m sure. But the Colonial Pipeline supplies less than 30 percent of the fuel in Mississippi,” he said. “Our river terminals at Vicksburg, Greenville, and Aberdeen are continuing to receive an abundant supply of product – increased, even, because of the delay in shipping on the pipeline. Our land terminals are continuing to fill orders. The Plantation Pipeline is increasing supply, and the Pascagoula Chevron Refinery is operating without disruption.”

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce says the Plantation Pipeline, an additional pipeline running through the state, works to make up for the shortfall. The Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, one of the largest refining operations in the country located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is unaffected due to the outage of the Colonial Pipeline, MDAC says. And the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery is continuing to supply its customer network along the U.S. East Coast and is managing fuel supply chain disruptions caused by the outage of the Colonial Pipeline.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a waiver allowing for longer service hours by motor carriers and drivers in affected states, including Mississippi.

Tuesday, the Central District Public Service Commissioner said the shutdown could hike gas prices “as supplies become more constrained,” and Gibson agrees, gas prices will increase, but not because of a fuel shortage.

“Unfortunately, gas prices have been on the rise, and we expect this will further contribute to price increases at the pump. However, we anticipate any local price increases felt by consumers will not be the result of lack of supply, but rather are related to additional shipping costs incurred with picking up product in markets outside of the routine contract area due to the disruption,” he said.

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