Some area gas stations were without fuel on Wednesday following a cyberattack on the computer system for Colonial Pipeline late last week, but area officials are warning residents to avoid panic buying gas.
“The whole problem is created by people panic buying,” said Yadkin EMS Director Keith Vestal. “There is fuel coming in, the only reason there’s a shortage now is because everybody went out buying up gas and that’s created the pumps at tanks in the gas stations to be empty. People are buying way more than they ever buy. The biggest thing is don’t panic buy and there will be enough to go around.”
Vestal also warned against storing gas in unsafe containers. Buy only what is needed, he said.
There were lines at most stations in Yadkinville on Tuesday afternoon, Vestal said.
“Fuel will get back to normal but it’s not going to get back to normal if people keep buying it up and storing it in jars and jugs,” he warned.
So far Vestal said that local emergency vehicles are not being affected by the shortages but there are contingency plans in place should it become an issue.
Some stations in Jonesville and Elkin had fuel on Wednesday afternoon though other area stations had bags covering pump handles and signs noting that there was no available fuel.
The local stores and stations running low on fuel are not alone. According to S&P’s Oil Price Information Service, more than 1,000 gas stations along the East Coast and into the South had run out of fuel on Tuesday
“A lot of that is because they’re selling three or four times as much gasoline that they normally sell in a given day, because people do panic,” the Associated Press quoted Tom Kloza, an analyst with S&P, as saying. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
According to various AP reports, the pipeline runs from the Texas Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan area. The states most dependent on the pipeline include Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, Kloza said.
In Virginia, 7.7% of the state’s nearly 3,900 gas stations reported running out of fuel Tuesday, according to Gasbuddy.com, which tracks supply. In North Carolina, 8.5% of almost 5,400 stations were out, the company said.
The pipeline’s shutdown prompted Gov. Roy Cooper to declare a state of emergency on Monday, which enacts stringent price gouging regulations, and also eases highway transportation regulations of gasoline and fuel oil. President Biden had also declared a state of emergency, easing restrictions nationwide on the highway transport of gasoline.
Still, shortages have taken place. Colonial Pipeline officials on Tuesday said they had opened the portion of the pipeline from Greensboro to Woodbine, Maryland, but it’s under manual control now, though that may change depending upon petroleum supply. The company has said it believes the pipeline may be back up to full operations by this weekend.