Pascagoula Chevron Refinery not affected by pipeline disruption, still shipping out fuel to MS
“Chevron’s refining operations in the Gulf Coast are unaffected by the outage of the Colonial pipeline.”
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Across the country, including in the Magnolia State, gas lines are long and many pumps are out following the Colonial Pipeline being shut down this week after being hacked.
The Colonial Pipeline typically supplies about 30 percent of the state’s gasoline. However, with panic-buying now taking place, state leaders are working to up the supply.
The Department of Transportation announced Tuesday night that Mississippi is on a list of ten states that can now allow overweight loads of gasoline and other fuel on interstate highways in order to help with the shortages. However, the Colonial Pipeline is expected to function properly by the end of this week.
For the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula, that is good news. Under normal circumstances, Chevron sends out between 115 to 125 tanker trucks each day, all loaded with gasoline to service 100 local stations. That gas goes to stations that are Chevron branded, as well as those that are not.
Because of the pipeline situation happening this week, Chevron said truck traffic has increased significantly as they continue to work to meet the needs of drivers throughout the region.
In a statement released Tuesday to WLOX, Chevron stated:
Chevron’s refining operations in the Gulf Coast are unaffected by the outage of the Colonial pipeline. We are actively managing fuel supply disruptions related to the Colonial Pipeline outage. While we continue to work hard to supply our customer network along the U.S. gulf and east coasts, the duration of the outage may lead to limited disruptions in supply in some areas based on current inventory levels at our proprietary terminals and exchange partners, logistics constraints caused by the outage, and customer demand. Providing safe and reliable fuel for our customers remains our top priority.
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce says the Plantation Pipeline, which is an additional pipeline that runs through the state, is working to make up for the shortfall caused by the disruption of the Colonial Pipeline.
In the meantime, Mississippi State Commissioner Andy Gipson is encouraging drivers not to panic-buy gas, warning that doing so is leading to an actual gas shortage in the state when there wasn’t one before.
However, across South Mississippi, the news spread quickly about the pipeline, sparking a rush to the pump. While many residents hurried to fill up, others took a calmer approach.
“Get it if you need it. Don’t hoard it,” said Ocean Springs resident Randy Sonnier.
The rush to buy gas reminds Sonnier of the days before a hurricane, when stations fill up and gas pumps often sell out. What happens then is now happening, he said.
“You’ll see (people) get extra five-gallon cans and hoard them just because they’re afraid they won’t get gas,” said Sonnier.
It’s that kind of behavior that Commissioner Gipson and other state leaders are trying to warn against.
“Panic buying is counterproductive. The best things we can do are: 1) limit unnecessary travel, and 2) purchase fuel only as needed,” Gipson said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”
The Colonial Pipeline is the largest in the U.S. and runs from Texas through Mississippi and up the East Coast. For places along the East Coast and in other landlocked states that don’t have refineries, actual gas shortages could be a real issue in the immediate future, said Gipson.
Reports began trickling in late Monday and early Tuesday about gas stations putting limits on how much gas each customer can get, as well as of several pumps already being sold out. However, state leaders are reassuring residents that the gas supply has not actually been affected by the pipeline, thanks in huge part to the Pascagoula refinery.
“As long as there’s some gas left, I think we will be fine,” Sonnier said.
The rush by so many to get gas is also impacting people’s wallets as the already-rising gas prices continue to go up.
“Prices are outrageously high at this time,” said Angelina Coe. “It is amazing that with the economy and with what’s been going on with COVID, it’s so high.”
Coe and her husband Clark are visiting the Gulf Coast from California to watch their daughter compete in the SWAC Women’s Softball tournament this week at the Gulfport Sports Complex.
The couple flew to New Orleans and then rented a car to drive to Gulfport and then on to Alabama. However, the spike in gas is something they didn’t prepare for.
“It was a little bit more than what I expected to budget for,” said Coe. “We need to budget accordingly. I got a child in college. I have another one on the way to college. I work full time. Thank God I still have my job and things are going (well), but you had to budget still for gas prices.”
Gas prices typically see an increase in the summer months when people travel more.
“As people are getting ready for the summer or getting ready to get back out there since things are lifting due to COVID, they need to be mindful that if the gas is cheaper, people will feel more comfortable getting it. If it’s higher, people will find alternative methods or not go at all,” said Angelina Coe.
However, Commissioner Gipson said that the rising gas prices are actually not being caused by the disruption of the pipeline or by people panic-buying gas.
“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.
Regardless of the reason why gas prices are rising across the country, Angelina Coe and her husband Clark Coe are grateful that they own an electric vehicle back in their home state of California.
“I try to encourage people (to get an electric vehicle) when they ask me what I drive,” he said. “We’re going on about three years with electric vehicles and we haven’t regretted it.”
As of Wednesday morning, the lowest gas on the Gulf Coast could be found at the Circle K on Pass Road in Gulfport, where the cost is $2.37/gal if the customer pays in cash.
The average price at most stations in South Mississippi, however, is around $2.57/gal, with some places going up to $2.75/gal.
To hear more from Commissioner Gipson, watch his full interview with WLOX below.
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