Will the fuel shortage affect West Virginia? Pipeline shutdown fuels fears in Huntington

Local News

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Have you noticed a spike in gas prices? Or maybe you couldn’t even get gas at your favorite gas station.

The ransomware cyber-attack on Colonial Pipeline has affected deliveries of about 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast.

As reports continue to surface of fuel shortages hitting the East Coast since the pipeline shutdown Friday, people locally are starting to wonder if and when that shoe may drop and prices may rise in our area.

“My friends from South Carolina—Myrtle Beach—they’re having a shortage down there real bad. Backed up for miles trying to get gas and stock up on it,” says Michael Miller, a Lyft driver from Mason County.

Word of gas shortages and price hikes happening elsewhere have people in the Tri-State concerned about filling their own gas tanks.

“I think it’ll probably trickle down on us eventually in West Virginia, cause I feel like we get kicked around a lot,” says Huntington resident Melinda Phillips.

“It’s scary cause I mean, people are limited from what they got now, with hardly any jobs or no money and now this is going to jack everything up higher and…unfortunately you got to pay for it or stay home,” Miller says.

For people who need their cars for work, like Michael, the concern grows:

“It’s gonna effect me a lot because, I mean, Lyft ain’t gonna raise my prices to pay me any more to cover my difference so I’ll end up quitting what I got to do and people will end up walking to work or whatever they gotta do,” Miller says.

Locally-owned gas station employees say it could become a concern for then too, since their profit margin is already slim in order to compete with the national brands.

“Frankly speaking, we are always cheaper than any other gas stations like Sheetz, Speedways…We think that if prices hike from the upside, then we hike it,” says Kartik Prajapadi, manager for Lulu Mart in Huntington.

People in the area worry if the gas gets too expensive, it could make it hard for people trying to make ends meet.

“A lot of the people around here lives on a fixed income every month…and bring back money for their family to feed their family I mean how are they gonna do that when they are paying $4.55 or five dollars a gallon of gas,” says Huntington resident Freddie Cornell.

For now, though, local people say they haven’t seen effects of the shutdown just yet.

“Just the prices fluctuating quite a bit, and going up and down,  a couple cents here there,” Phillips says.

A spokesperson for Marathon’s Petroleum Refinery—Jamal Kheiry—says they are keeping an eye on the issue:

“Marathon Petroleum’s refining, marketing and logistics teams work together to continuously monitor market conditions and adjust our operations as needed. As the market conditions associated with the temporary shutdown of Colonial Pipeline evolve, we are optimizing our system accordingly. We are working with customers and other business partners to determine potential arrangements in the event of an extended shutdown of Colonial Pipeline, leveraging our logistics network and commercial relationships toward keeping our customers supplied with fuel,” Kheiry says.

Many people say they hope the federal government steps in to help get that fuel where it needs to go before the issue reaches the Tri-State.

Meanwhile Colonial Pipeline says it hopes to have most of its operations back to normal by the end of the week.

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