Gas prices spike after gas pipe leak

Published 10:59 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If you have noticed an increase in gas prices in the last week, this was the result of a severe leak in a major gas pipeline.

The Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Houston, Texas, to Linden, N.J., delivers 1.3 million barrels of gasoline a day to the East Coast states. On Sept. 9, a leak was discovered in Alabama, in one of the pipeline’s two lines, according to a AAA press release.

The leak, spilling more than 250,000 gallons, has caused an increase in gas prices along the East Coast, notably in the Southern states.

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Virginia is one of several states in the region that have experienced significant gas price increases within the last week. Other states include Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, with the largest increase at 28 cents, according to Gregg Laskoski, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst.

Due to the situation’s severity, the governors of Virginia, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee declared a state of emergency late last week.

Repairs on the leak began last week and the reason for the delay was because “the fumes from the gasoline made it dangerous to be in the area,” Laskoski said.

Colonial Pipeline stated last weekend a 500-foot-long bypass structure would be put in place on Wednesday to divert the gasoline flow from the damaged area.

The analyst added if testing goes well with the bypass structure, the pipeline should be operational on Wednesday. Additionally, he hypothesized the pipeline should be fully functional within the next week or two.

Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs at the AAA Tidewater office, said despite the concern surrounding the leak, it was a “short-term hiccup in the flow of gasoline.”

Currently, Virginia’s average is $2.09, which is a 10-cent increase since last week. Even so, Virginia remains the 10th cheapest state in the nation for gas, according to Laskoski.

The commonwealth’s major ports have facilitated acquiring gasoline from other countries, which has softened the blow, according to Blumling.

However, a handful of local gas stations and motorists have had ambivalent opinions about the prices.

“I didn’t think it would go up so fast,” said Krystina Loprete, who was filling up at the Shell gas station on Bridge Road.

Moosa Siddiq, manager of the Raceway gas station on Portsmouth Boulevard, said consumer traffic has been steady despite a 20-cent price increase since last week.

Siddiq added due to the high demand within the state, it has delayed arrival times for supply trucks. He fears if the delays persist, it could result in frequent shortages.

William Strange, a patron at Raceway, said he had seen several gas stations in western Virginia run out of gas.

Despite the fear of gas shortages, Blumling advised against “panic buys” at the pump.

As of Tuesday, GasBuddy has introduced an online system allowing motorists to search and report fuel availability in the impacted states. The system is also available through the GasBuddy app on both iOS and Android. In 2012, the same tool was utilized in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.