Local gas supplies dwindle after leak

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

A gas shortage caused by the recent leak in the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies the majority of gasoline to the East Coast, has reached Madison with several local gas stations running out of fuel.

Ingles, Raceway, and The Golden Pantry have all closed their gas pumps, unsure of when the next shipment of gasoline will arrive. The local BP station is running low, and anticipates running out of gas sometime this week.

“It’s a dire situation for us,” said Bobby Meeler, Ingles manager, who noted the store was the first to run out of gas last Friday. “It’s a major problem that has obviously affected our gas business.”

“The problem has only escalated as each day goes by,” said Meeler, who also noted Ingles’ gas supplier has not been able to give them a solid date on the store’s next gasoline shipment.

“Our gas sales have obviously been hit hard and there has been customer frustrations,” said Meeler. “Some people have gotten panicky, especially now that other stations are running out.”

”But when we do get it, we are not going to price gouge. When it comes in, we are going to sell it as cheaply as we can. I’m sure some independent stores will up the price, but Ingles will not do that,” added Meeler.

Raceway and The Golden Pantry do not have any assurance from their suppliers when gas will become available again.

However, the Pilot Station in Madison assures that they will not run out of gas anytime soon and that there supply shipments have not been affected by the gas shortage.

The multi-state gas shortage began when a massive underground leak was discovered in one of the main lines in the Colonial Pipeline system. The Colonial Pipleline is 5,500 miles long, running from Texas to New York. A section of the pipeline located 30 miles south of Birmingham, Alabama cracked, spilling over 250,000 gallons of oil. According to the Colonial Pipeline Company, a major section of the pipeline had to be closed to repair the damage. That particular pipeline supplies over 1.3 million gallons of fuel daily to the east coast.

Atlanta was hit hard, with numerous reports of long lines at gas pumps, higher prices for gas, and many gas stations out of gas altogether.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared “a state of emergency” last week and signed executive order Monday, September 19 prohibiting gas stations from hiking fuel prices because of increased demand. According to Georgia law, gas stations can only increase the price of gas to cover increased transportation costs, not increased demand.  Drivers who suspect a station is price gouging can report it to the State Consumer Protection Office. According to state press release, “The Georgia Department of Agriculture is working with our federal, state and industry partners to monitor the situation and have taken action along with the Governor’s Office to relax certain regulations in an attempt to open several alternate avenues to help resupply the Atlanta area.”

According to both the state of Georgia and Colonial Pipeline, it shouldn’t be long before gas supplies return to normal.

Colonial Pipeline released a notice Tuesday, Sept. 20 that the repair work on the pipeline is completed and expected to reopen Wednesday, Sept. 21. The pipeline firm also noted they ordered fuel from the Gulf Coast to send to outlets in some of the Southern States, including Georgia,  to help replenish suffering fuel stocks.

“Construction, fabrication and positioning of the bypass segment around the leak site is complete,” reported the press release. “Colonial is in the process of executing a hydrostatic test of the segment, which is approximately 500 feet in length, to ensure its structural integrity…

Based on operational progress made to date and the anticipated schedule of work ahead, Colonial Pipeline now projects a Line 1 restart of tomorrow, Wednesday, September 21.

When Line 1 restarts, it will take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal.  As such, some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions.  Colonial continues to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.”

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