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Mississippi Town Sees Gasoline Reprieve

GREENWOOD, Miss. -- The gasoline supply to Greenwood, Miss., and its surrounding area is improving and the price of gas is going down.

However, gasoline operators are wary that another panicky run on the pumps, such as the one in the first few days after Hurricane Katrina hit, could result in new shortages.

Walton Gresham of Gresham-McPherson, a Greenwood-based wholesale gasoline distributor, said the oil industry has done a good job at getting fuel to Mississippi and the rest of the Southeast after the hurricane knocked out eight oil refineries in southern Louisiana.

"They're doing everything they can to get product into Mississippi," he said.

Fuel from two pipelines originating in Texas has been diverted to the southeast, and gasoline from as far away as Jacksonville, Fla., has been trucked to Mississippi.

Tom Gresham, who oversees the Double Quick convenience store chain, said all of the Greenwood stores should be fully stocked with gasoline by yesterday -- a significant change from last week when the company ran out of regular unleaded gasoline at many of its locations.

Double Quick's price dropped to $2.49 per gallon for self-serve regular, 50 cents below its peak last week. Some other operators were selling the same grade for as much as $2.79 yesterday morning.

Gresham said that supply is the bigger issue and motorists should be less concerned with price. He noted last week's panic buying of gasoline combined with reduced supply drained some pumps. The company was forced to truck in gasoline from as far away as Arkansas, which drove up the price at the pump.

At Gresham-McPherson, a sister company to Double Quick, the fuel supply got so low that it had to split tank loads between three locations. "It got to the point where we were just hauling premium,” said Walton Gresham. “We had no unleaded regular."

Gresham said when consumers started hoarding gasoline the situation worsened. There were reports of customers attempting to fill up trash cans with gasoline to store in their garages. Presently, Gresham said consumers are making concerted efforts to conserve. He estimated that consumption is down 4 to 5 percent.
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