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Gas supply low in Prentiss after pipeline attack

A weekend cyberextortion attempt on a vital U.S. pipeline has not dramatically affected local gas prices yet, but it has already made a difference in supply availability.

Colonial Pipeline was hit Saturday by a ransomware attack and halted all pipeline operations in order to deal with the threat.

Colonial transports gasoline and other fuel through 10 states between Texas and New Jersey, delivering roughly 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast.

Futures for crude and fuel, prices traders pay for contracts for delivery at some point in the future, typically begin to rise each year as the driving season approaches in summer. The price charged at the pump tends to follow.

On Monday afternoon, gasoline prices in Prentiss were $2.69 per gallon.  The average across the state Monday was $2.61 per gallon, with Mississippi having the lowest gas prices nationwide, according to Oil Price Information Service.

By Monday night, most stations in Prentiss were out of all regular gas. Some stations received a delivery as early Tuesday morning, while others will have to wait until Wednesday.

“All of our regular gas is gone, and conventional is almost gone, said Checkpoint/Spaceway manager Dana Coats.

According to Coats, a truck from Fair Oil in Meridian will be arriving Wednesday to refill the tanks.

There has been no increase in price at the pumps as of late Tuesday.

Colonial has restarted portions of its network, and seesawing prices may be felt mostly within the energy industry as suppliers adjust to potential shifts in fuel flow.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson encourages the public across Mississippi to refrain from “panic buying” fuel due to the halted operations of the Colonial Pipeline. Colonial Pipeline expects to restore operations by the end of this week.

“In the meantime,” Commissioner Gipson suggests, “the best things we can do are: 1) limit unnecessary travel; and 2) purchase fuel only as needed.”

“I want to encourage the public across the state to purchase the fuel they need, but not over buy 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. The Department’s Regulatory Services Bureau is closely monitoring this situation,” said Commissioner Gipson.