Gas outages in the southeast are made worse by panic buying

A couple refills several 5-gallon gas tanks at a Wawa gas station after a cyberattack crippled the country’s largest fuel line operated by Colonial Pipeline on May 12, 2021 in Tampa, Florida, United States.

Octavio Jones | Reuters

The gas shortage in the southeastern United States only gets worse as panicked consumers go to the pump.

According to GasBuddy, the shortage is most acute in North Carolina, where 65% of gas stations are out of fuel. In South Carolina and Georgia, 43% of the stations are dry. Across Virginia, 44% of the stations are fuelless.

Officials have tried to contain panic buying, noting that the Colonial Pipeline has announced it will be back in operation by the end of the week.

The pipeline is an important link between the Gulf Coast and east coast refineries. It stretches for more than 5,000 miles and carries nearly half the fuel on the east coast. Colonial Pipeline shut down its entire system on Friday after falling victim to a ransomware attack. Much of the system remains offline.

The company is expected to provide an update on whether it can resume operations by the end of the day on Wednesday. Once activity is restored, it will likely take at least a few days for operations to return to normal. This is the first time the entire pipeline has been shut down.

The national average for a gallon of gasoline was above $ 3 on Wednesday for the first time in nearly seven years. In states like Georgia and Virginia, where fuel is scarce, the price hike is more acute.

The colonial pipeline is vital to the country’s energy business. However, experts quickly realize that there are alternatives in case it remains closed for a longer period of time.

Fuel can be shipped by train or truck. It could also be imported from Europe. Additionally, the Jones Act could be waived to address delivery concerns. Officials said Tuesday that there had been no calls to waive the law requiring goods transported between US ports to be carried on US flagged vessels.

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