Fuel shortages have widened across the East Coast as consumers continue to panic buy amid the fallout from a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline last week by Russian ransomware group DarkSide. The national average for gas prices has now reached $3 per gallon as of Wednesday, the most expensive level since October 2014.
The 5,500-mile pipeline system transports more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil per day, or roughly 45% of fuel consumed on the Eastern Seaboard between the Gulf Coast and the New York metro area.
Colonial Pipeline Co. said on Monday that it is aiming to substantially restore its system by the end of the week.
Gasbuddy – which operates apps and websites based on finding real-time fuel prices at more than 140,000 gas stations – attributes the increase in gas prices to the economic recovery associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gasbuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan noted that Tuesday’s gasoline demand soared 14.3% compared to the prior Tuesday, while week to date gasoline demand is up 10.7% week-over-week.
De Haan clarified that while the stations are reporting fuel outages, the situation appears to be that there are not enough truck drivers to transport existing fuel rather than not enough supply. He urged officials to send more trucks in to help alleviate the situation.
Below is a FOX Business state-by-state breakdown on gasoline outages, based on the latest data from Gasbuddy:
According to the latest figures from Gasbuddy, North Carolina is currently the state hardest hit by the disruption, with about 24.8% of the state’s fuel stations experiencing gasoline outages.
As of 9 a.m., 78% of gas stations in Greenville, Spartanburg, Asheville and Anderson have reported outages, while 72% of Raleigh and Durham stations, 71% of Charlotte stations, 69% of Greenville New Bern and Washington stations, and 65% of Norfolk Portsmouth and Newport stations have no gasoline.
On Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency “suspending motor vehicle fuel regulations to ensure adequate fuel supply supplies throughout the state.”
The emergency declaration will help North Carolina “prepare for any potential motor vehicle fuel supply interruptions across the state and ensure motorists are able to have access to fuel,” Cooper said in a statement.
Wednesday’s average gas price in North Carolina stood at $2.85 per gallon, according to American Automobile Association.
Following behind North Carolina in outages is Virginia. About 15% of the state’s fuel stations are reporting gasoline outages.
Wednesday’s average gas price in Virginia stood at $2.87 per gallon, according to the AAA.
In Georgia, about 15.4% of the state’s total stations are without gasoline.
Nearly 60% of metro Atlanta’s gas stations are out of gasoline, which De Haan says has held steady since about 1 a.m.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order on Tuesday suspending the state’s gas tax in an effort to help offset higher gas prices as a result of the cyberattack. The order also increases the weight limits on trucks transporting fuel.
“We are working closely with Colonial and expect for them to recover by the end of the week,” Kemp said.
Kemp warned consumers at a press conference that there is no need to engage in panic buying.
“There is no need to fill up every tank you have or hoard gasoline,” Kemp said. “Use good common sense.”
In addition, Kemp said that any station taking advantage of the disruption through price gouging will “not be tolerated.”
Wednesday’s average gas price in Georgia stood at $2.95 per gallon, according to AAA.
In Florida, about 4.2% of the state’s stations are currently without gasoline.
As of 9 a.m., 73% of Pensacola stations are reporting no gasoline, followed by 44% of Tallahassee stations and 15% of Gainesville stations.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in the Sunshine State on Tuesday. However, Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA, told First Coast News that the rush to the pump is driven by fear and creating an unnecessary gas shortage.
“People are hearing the news about this pipeline outage and they’re rushing to the pump,” Jenkins said. “There is a shortage in different states but what is happening right now is drivers are creating the shortage out of fear.”
Wednesday’s average gas price in Florida stood at $2.88 per gallon, according to AAA.
About 13.4% of South Carolina’s stations have currently reported gas outages.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said on Tuesday he is in contact with the Office of Regulatory Staff regarding the Colonial Pipeline’s temporary shutdown and stands ready to take any additional action that may be necessary.
“Because our state is currently under a state of emergency, transportation waivers and price gouging laws are in effect to facilitate fuel delivery and protect consumers,” McMaster added. “There is no need to rush to top off your gas tanks or hoard gas — the pipeline is expected to resume operations by the end of the week.”
Wednesday’s average gas price in South Carolina stood at $2.82 per gallon, according to AAA.
In Maryland, about 3.5% of the state’s total stations have run out of gasoline, with 8% of Washington, D.C., stations and 7% of Baltimore stations reporting outages.
Wednesday’s average gas price in Maryland stood at $2.94 per gallon, according to AAA.
In Tennessee, about 2.8% of the state’s total gas stations have reported outages. Wednesday’s average gas price in Tennessee stood at $2.81 per gallon, according to AAA.
In Alabama, 1.8% of the state’s stations are without gasoline. Wednesday’s average gas price in Alabama stood at $2.78 per gallon, according to AAA.