CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Word of gas shortages in the Carolinas and across the south is fueling a much bigger problem, according to the head of the Oil Marketers and Grocers Association of West Virginia.
OMEGA President Traci Nelson told MetroNews Tuesday national news stories about stations in the in other states running out of fuel can make a bad situation even worse.
“We saw the same situation last year with toilet paper. People panic when they think they’re going to run out of something and that’s what creates outages and shortages,” she said.
The supply of gasoline and diesel fuel was interrupted to those states by a shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline. The line transports gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from Houston to New Jersey and to terminals all along the route through the south. The pipeline operator’s systems were hit with ransomware from an eastern European group which specializes in hacking for money. So they closed it down while the rooted out the problem.
According to Nelson, West Virginia only gets a small amount of petroleum products from the Colonial Pipeline. The state gets much more of its gasoline from the Plantation Pipeline which originates in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and parallels the Colonial Pipeline through the south terminating in the Washington D.C. area.
She urges those in West Virginia to be calm and only buy the amount of gas you need under normal circumstances.
“We’re not out of fuel and we don’t have any outages or shortages. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. This situation should correct itself pretty quickly hopefully,” she said.
The supply disruption is expected to have a ripple effect and will cause gasoline prices to rise several cents per gallon in the next few days. Most analysts believe it will be a short term problem.