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Retail U.S. gas prices still rising as Colonial repairs continue

| NEW YORK, Sept 19

NEW YORK, Sept 19 Gasoline prices in the southeastern United States kept rising on Monday after a more than weeklong disruption in Colonial Pipeline's main gasoline line led to supply issues and choppy availability in retail gas stations across the region.

The leak, which was discovered on Sept. 9, has released about 6,000 to 8,000 barrels of gasoline in Shelby County, Alabama, and thrown the gasoline market into a tizzy in the past week, with East Coast and futures prices increasing and Gulf Coast prices weakening significantly.

One of the hardest hit states is Georgia, where prices were up nearly 6 cents overnight to Monday. The average price of a gallon of gas in the state is now at $2.316, more than 20 cents higher than a week ago, according to motorists' advocacy group AAA.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed an executive order on Monday preventing gas stations from significantly raising their fuel prices. Many states have allowed for an extension of the maximum number of hours truck drivers are allowed to drive in order to deliver gas products to the state.

Gasoline futures gained 9 percent in the week following the leak, although futures dipped modestly on Monday, falling 0.3 percent to $1.4569 a gallon in trading.

Colonial still projects a full restart of its damaged gasoline line, which typically hauls about 1.3 million barrels a day, by this week. The company is in the midst of constructing a bypass that circumvents the leak.

Availability of fuel has varied across the region. Gasoline stations have run out in parts of Tennessee and long lines were seen in the Nashville area. State governors have called for citizens to not rush to fill up their tanks.

"There's a very emotional response to the headlines," said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData. "So you see false indicators to demand when people fill up tanks due to shortage fears and that adds another layer of complexity."

Pump prices in Alabama ticked up to $2.01 on Monday while prices in Tennessee rose nearly 3 cents to $2.13 from $2.10 on Sunday, according to the AAA.

Patrick Sheehan of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said Middle and East Tennessee have had spotty unavailability of fuel.

"The Tennessee Petroleum Association has informed us any unavailability is being resolved in a matter of hours, and often even if one station is out of fuel, other stations nearby have fuel available," he said in a statement over the weekend. (bit.ly/2cKlnn9)

Colonial said on Monday it gathered gasoline from Gulf Coast refiners to transport the fuel on its distillate line to markets throughout the affected region. (Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)

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