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Local Panic at the Pumps

By Eugenia Jones

On Tuesday, McCreary County gas station owners reported a super busy day at the pumps as locals began filling up vehicles and gas jugs with fuel. The flurry of activity was sparked by concerns of possible gas shortages throughout the southeastern United States after Colonial Pipeline was crippled by a ransomware cyberattack. Now that officials have identified Darkside, a criminal hacker group tied to Russia, as being behind the cyberattack, Colonial Pipeline is cautiously anticipating resumption of almost full operations by the end of the week. At the same time, officials are cautioning consumers against hoarding and panic buying. Experts caution there is no need for panic at this point and warn panic buying and hoarding will only extend shortages and cause further spikes in gas prices.
Locally, gas station owners gave a mixed review concerning the availability of gas.
“The shortages seem to be hit and miss; however, we’ve been very fortunate,” Mark Sumner of Larry’s Somerset Oil commented. “However, yesterday (Tuesday) was a very busy day. We sold a tanker load in one day.”
Jaqueline Martin, cashier at 27 Auto Center, confirmed the station has a $30.00 limit in place.
“We are doing a limit of $30.00 per car to be fair,” Martin said. “The way gas companies are now, we really don’t have another option when we want to provide service to everyone.”
“We are doing all right so far,” Darrell Dobbs at Krogers’ Gas reported. “We sold a lot Tuesday. It was very busy.”
Becky Shepherd of Becky’s Corner Market is not out of gas yet but has placed a $25.00 limit on gas per person/car, no exceptions.
“We have 4,200 gallons with a limit of $25.00 on gas per person/car,” Shepherd said. “That amount should last us for a few days if people are not stingy and are considerate of others. We’ve been telling people to buy only what they need and to only drive when it is really necessary.”
Pine Knot’s Valero anticipated gas (only regular-no premium or diesel) coming in last night (Wednesday) or Thursday morning.
According to Valero’s owner, Russell Jones, the nationwide news coverage is making the gas situation worse.
“I feel like the supply is there,” Jones commented on Wednesday. “But demand has gone crazy. I will be out today but will get gas (regular) back in tonight or in the morning. I would normally have gas, but people are panicking and demand has tripled. On top of that, the demand is so high that suppliers are covered up with orders. I feel like things will settle down and get back to normal in about a week. I’m planning to put a $30.00 limit on gas in the morning just to help people not panic.”
Stearns’ Raider One Stop is doing well.
“We’re doing all right,” owner Ricky Longmire said. “We’ve got about 1,000 gallons and supposed to get some more regular in today. I am not too concerned, yet. They tell me the supply is there.”
Poppa’s Quik Stop #5 in Whitley City has had more difficulty in maintaining a supply of gas.
“I’ve been out of regular for two days and only have a little premium left,” owner Paresh Patel remarked. “It’s hard for me to get gas right now.”
County Road Supervisor Tony Kidd said the county’s emergency vehicles such as ambulances and police cruisers should be in good shape.
“We have our own tank filled with enough that we should be fine for a while,” Kidd assured. “Plus, we plan to place another order this week.”
The McCreary County School District also has its own tank of fuel.
“We don’t anticipate any problems with having fuel for school bus transportation,”

While the pipeline cyberattack has created widespread alarm, it is just the latest concern regarding fuel. A shortage of tank drivers has led some experts to speculate about the possibility of hikes in gas prices this summer-especially since COVID-19 travel restrictions are beginning to lessen and demand is expected to increase.

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