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You asked, we answered: Colonial Pipeline questions answered

Colonial Pipeline looking to 'substantially restore operations by end of week


You asked, we answered: Colonial Pipeline questions answered

Gas analysts say don’t worry, but drivers still doMore than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast reported running out of fuel, primarily because of what analysts say is unwarranted panic-buying among drivers after hackers shut down a major pipeline. Many drivers are still lining up for gas. (May 12)APThe recent shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline is sending thousands to fill up their tanks at local gas stations. However, gas prices are above $3 and some gas stations are running out or low on fuel. The Colonial Pipeline stretches from Texas to New Jersey and supplies almost half of the East Coast’s fuel. It shut down following a cyberattack but the fuel company said it hopes to “substantially” restore service by the end of the week.USA TODAY answered consumers’ top questions surrounding the fuel shutdown.Which states are affected?Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia may be more heavily affected because they have limited options in terms of fuel transportation alternatives. The Colonial Pipeline system delivers about 45% of the fuel for the East Coast, including gasoline and jet fuel. Gulf Coast states can rely more easily on shipments from tankers.What happened? The FBI has said that an online gang known as DarkSide struck the Colonial Pipeline system with a ransomware attack, which takes computerized systems hostage until a payment is made. “We continue to work with the company and our government partners on the investigation,” the FBI said. Further details on the hack haven’t been released. Could another hack or shutdown happen again?Yes, another shutdown or cyberattack is possible.GasBuddy analysist Patrick de Haan said this attack leaves the industry “vulnerable” to others. Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza says it’s a “wakeup call” for the energy industry, adding “Imagine if it was one of the power companies.”What’s being done?As of Wednesday morning, the Colonial Pipeline has delivered approximately 41 million gallons to various delivery points including Atlanta, Ga., Belton and Spartanburg, S.C., Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., Baltimore, Md. and Woodbury and Linden, N.J., according to Colonial’s website. As the system prepares to restart, Colonial has 84 million gallons from refineries ready for deployment.On Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order temporarily suspending state taxes on fuel. The governors of Florida, North Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency.To help the supply chain, affected states are now allowed to use interstate highways in their state to transport overweight loads of gasoline and other fuels, under existing disaster declarations. Should I stock up on gas? Jeff Lenard, Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives of the National Association of Convenience Stores said Americans should purchase their gas as they would on any other “normal” day.“This is the worst panic buying for gasoline since the Carter Administration,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.Kloza said outages at more than 10,000 gas stations are spreading “like a bad rash” on the East Coast.GasBuddy data showed U.S. gasoline demand surged 20% on Monday in comparison to the previous Monday, Allison Mac, petroleum analyst at fuel-savings app GasBuddy said.How can I safely store gas?Here’s guidance from Exxon Mobile:Store the gasoline in an approved fuel can or tank that’s usually five gallons or less. Also, don’t fill up containers up all the way so there’s room for the gas to expand.Keep containers tightly sealed and use caution handling them to avoid spilling gas.Store gasoline at room temperature, and keep it away from potential heat sources such as the sun or a furnace.Store gasoline in a detached shed or garage, at least 50 feet away from ignition sources such as pilot lights.U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning to not fill plastic bags with gasoline. “We know this sounds simple, but when people get desperate, they stop thinking clearly. They take risks that can have deadly consequences. If you know someone who is thinking about bringing a container not meant for fuel to get gas, please let them know it’s dangerous,” the USCPSC tweeted.Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline.— US Consumer Product Safety Commission (@USCPSC) May 12, 2021Is it safe to take a road trip?Rob Underwood, president of Energy Marketers of America, said not to panic when scheduling vacations or future plans. As long as panic buying subsides, Underwood predicted the supply chain – and gas prices – would stabilize. “With the end of panic buying, we can all go about our regular schedules and plans. Once your tank is full, you can’t get any fuller or safe than that in your tank,” Lenard said.Lenard added that Memorial Day weekend is still three weeks away and the pipeline should be up and running before then.Why aren’t gas stations limiting how much people can buy?Rationing of gas quantities was last seen in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy. Lenard said rationing is usually implemented after a prolonged period of shortages, which isn’t the current case. “There’s a lot of tension at the gas stations now, it’s even a struggle to regulate masks at stations. So rationing isn’t under consideration right now,” Lenard said. “People just need to use common sense, it’s not the time to buy gas in bulk.”Underwood added that in some cases, rationing gas only increases panic buying.Is there a gas shortage or overreaction? Susan Grissom, chief industry analyst at American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and Lenard echoed that there is not a gas shortage but a disruption in the supply chain. Grissom said although there is an abundance of fuel, there are challenges in how to deliver the fuel across the East Coast amid the Colonial Pipeline’s disruption. “It takes time to regroup massive quantities of product and efficiently make deliveries to more remote areas that are supplied by the Colonial, figuring out the time and logistics takes some time,” Grissom said.Where can I find gas?The GasBuddy app features a fuel availability tracker which tells users which stations have no gas, no fuel or no power.  The tracker is crowdsourced, and motorists are encouraged to report local stations out of gas or fuel. However, on May 12, the app experienced a temporary shutdown of its own. “We will keep checking in the background and, as soon as the site comes back, you will automatically be served the live version,” read a message on the site earlier on Wednesday.That message has since been removed from the site as of Wednesday afternoon. Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda

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