HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Even though the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline is over, ripple effects in the supply chain remain as driver’s tanks run low and gas stations run out of gas.
According to AAA Alabama, the Colonial Pipeline supplies 45% of the state’s gasoline supply. While the organization believes the supply change will bounce back fairly quickly, panic buying has created soaring demand and affected prices, something that won’t rebound nearly as fast.
The Colonial Pipeline is the largest in the country, running from Houston to New York Harbor. The temporary shutdown created ripple effects spanning the fuel supply chain.
Clay Ingram, AAA Alabama spokesperson says that includes, “everything that comes off of that, the delivery guys, the retailers, even you and I as motorists.”
Ingram says even refineries have had to scale back production.
“Because of a surplus that already exists around the Houston area and other areas that they aren’t able to transport through the pipeline,” Ingram said.
Alabama is one of several state with gas stations experiencing gas outages as a result of the pipeline’s temporary shutdown, according to user generated reports on Gas Buddy. Gas Buddy has a map that shows gas stations with outages reflected in yellow. Dozens were reported in Madison County Wednesday.
But those outages could be resolved relatively quickly as the pipeline opens back up. News 19 interviewed Ingram early Wednesday afternoon. At that time, Colonial Pipeline officials said the pipeline would be back open by the end of the week. At that time, Ingram thought the supply chain would be “back to business as usual” within a week.
But Ingram says he doesn’t think the outages were actually caused by low supply, but by panic buying.
“I feel very strongly that the vast majority, if not all of the outages, are caused purely from the panic buying,” he stated.
Due to that panic buying, the average price of gas in the state increased ten cents, from $2.68 to $2.78, in two days earlier this week. Ingram says unfortunately for drivers, the inflated price could last much longer than the supply chain disruption.
Ingram says the higher price of gas related to panic buying could last through the summer months. That said, he doesn’t expect the state’s average price a gallon will stay below three dollars.