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Gas supply slow to fully recover

AHOSKIE – Despite the reopening of the Colonial Pipeline, the consistent availability of gas may take weeks to return to normal.

The pipeline – which supplies gasoline and other fuel products along the eastern seaboard – restarted operations on Thursday after being shutdown by a ransomware attack. That left gas station owners and consumers scrambling to fill their respective tanks.

“Contrary to what was being reported, there was a gas shortage because of the shutdown,” stated Miles Harrell, Vice President of Retail Operations for Ahoskie-based Jernigan Oil & Propane, which operates numerous Duck Thru Food Stores throughout the region.

“More product is now available; the problem is trucking it to our stations and keeping our tanks at operational levels,” Harrell added. “As quickly as we’re able to get the product to our stores, customers are buying it just as quickly.”

While gas is flowing once again in the Colonial Pipeline, it doesn’t travel at breakneck speed.

“The gas flows at approximately 5-to-10 miles per hour, so it takes a while to get from point A to point B and so on,” Harrell explained. “We and other retail suppliers are pulling it out of their lines faster than it can get here from Texas.

“It will take a while before everything is back to normal,” Harrell continued. “I’m guessing it will still take a couple of weeks, hopefully by Memorial Day weekend, for there to be a consistent volume of gas in the pipeline able to fill the terminals, which will allow us and other suppliers to have a consistent amount of gas to keep our tanks filled.”

Since earlier this week, Jernigan Oil & Propane had to break away from their normal operating procedures in an effort to locate gas. Harrell said their tanker trucks typically get gas from terminals in Selma, Apex, and Chesapeake, VA. Those sources were still available, but in limited supply. That forced the company to go as far as Wilmington, Greensboro, and Richmond, VA to find gas.

“Those last three added to our transport times due to the greater distances from our stores,” Harrell said. “Plus the waiting time to fill our tankers at any location was longer due to the number of trucks there at one time because of the crisis.”

Harrell commended the Jernigan/Duck-Thru employees for the way they are dealing with the gas crisis.

“Everybody chipped in….the truck drivers and the girls and guys at our stores continue to do a great job; they went above and beyond to assist our customers,” he concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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