Drivers from the East Coast through the Deep South, fearful that a cyberattack on a 5,500-mile long pipeline might leave them stranded, scrambled to fill up their cars Tuesday, leaving some stations across the region short on supplies of gasoline.
The cyberattack Friday on the Colonial Pipeline led to the surge in demand that saw cars lined up at gas stations and prices jump anywhere from 2 to 10 cents in a day.
According to GasBuddy, a website that tracks gas prices and availability based on real-time fuel prices at more than 140,000 gas stations, shortages of gasoline supplies are hitting more stations due to panic buying.
The East Coast reported a 32.5% increase in demand Monday compared to the previous week, with the Gulf Coast at a 13.1% increase. As of Tuesday night, that demand had left nearly 1,800 stations in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia without gasoline.
So far, North Carolina seemed to be the state hardest hit by shortages, according to GasBuddy. As of Tuesday night, 35% of stations in Charlotte were out of gas. In Raleigh, the state’s capital, nearly 60% of stations reported they were out of gasoline.
In Georgia, 10.4% of the state’s gas stations were reporting they were out of gasoline, with 50% of metro Atlanta stations saying they did not have gasoline to sell.
Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy said Atlanta’s problems stemmed from the fact that trucks could not deliver gasoline fast enough to the area’s stations because motorists were “consuming an entire truck” delivery of gasoline in four hours.
De Haan suggested that gasoline purchases be limited for a time so stations could have a chance to get caught up on gasoline supplies.
With an increase in demand has come a jump in prices. According to the AAA motor club, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 2 cents on Tuesday. Across the states serviced by the pipeline, gas prices jumped Tuesday anywhere from 6 cents in North Carolina to 10 cents a gallon in Georgia.
The average price in Fulton County, Georgia, on Tuesday was $3.11 a gallon. The state average was $2.95 a gallon, according to AAA.
Colonial Pipeline moves more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil in a day, representing nearly half of the fuel used by those from the metro New York City area to the Gulf Coast of Texas. The FBI says it believes the cyberattack was launched by DarkSide, a group believed to have roots in Eastern Europe, according to The New York Times.
The pipeline has remained offline since Friday in an attempt to stop the spread of the malware from the company’s computer system to the control systems responsible for keeping the pipeline running.
Officials at Colonial said they hope to have the pipeline running again by the end of this week.
How can you find gasoline?
With shortages growing across the area the pipeline serves, GasBuddy has activated a fuel availability tracker for stations in the affected states.
You can download the GasBuddy app, enter a zip code and find which stations in that area have gasoline.
“When a motorist is near a station that has no gas, diesel or power, the GasBuddy app will automatically display NO GAS or NO DIESEL or NO POWER icons next to the station on the list screen and the station will be highlighted in red on the map screen,” according to the company. Motorists can look for other stations in their area that may have gasoline.
The app depends on crowdsourcing to report the status of stations.
You can go here to download the GasBuddy app. The app is free.
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