HIGH POINT — Gas supplies and prices may not return to normal until next week after panic purchases at the pump following a cyberattack that interrupted fuel deliveries to service stations.
Officials with Colonial Pipeline, which provides about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast through a pipeline from refineries at the Gulf Coast, hope that operations recover from the cyberattack this week, but it would take several days to restore full deliveries. The pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan region, but states in the Southeast are more reliant on the pipeline.
Starting Tuesday, a rapid run of buying by people filling their tanks has led to temporary outages at a number of service stations and pushed up prices for motorists who can find gas.
But the disruptions caused by the cyberattack are not the biggest cause, said Tiffany Wright, director of public affairs manager for AAA-The Auto Club in the Carolinas.
“The biggest reason we are seeing some shortages is because of panic-buying,” Wright said. “We encourage motorists to be responsible at the pump and not top off their tanks unnecessarily or fill up extra vehicles and gas cans. In situations like this, we can be our own worst enemy.”
Service stations are being refueled regularly despite the disruptions, Wright told The High Point Enterprise.
“The Carolinas are a priority for refueling,” she said.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, 65% of service stations in North Carolina were without fuel, the highest percentage among Southern states affected by the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, according to the gasoline information service GasBuddy. The states with the next highest percentage of stations out of gas were Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, each at 42%.
Gas prices were spiralling up to levels not recorded for the past several years, AAA reported.
In the Greensboro-High Point area, prices increased 10 cents a gallon in a day to an average of $2.85 for self-service unleaded on Wednesday morning. Local prices for self-service unleaded were up 18 cents a gallon in the past week, according to AAA.
Colonial Pipeline reported that the company has transported about 41 million gallons to delivery points along its pipeline, including its storage facility in Greensboro. The company reported it has taken delivery of about 84 million gallons from refineries to distribute.
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