South Carolina is not yet feeling any serious effects after a gas pipeline that supplies it was shut down last week due to a leak. However, driving organization AAA Carolinas says prices may continue to rise as the supply is limited.
South Carolina Petroleum Council executive director Bonnie Loomis said gas stations in the state tend to get their fuel from two sources — a Colonial Pipe line that runs across the Upstate and via tanker ships that port in Charleston. Due to geography, Upstate stations are more reliant on the pipeline ordered shut down last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation after Colonial Pipeline said more than 252,000 gallons may have leaked.
Loomis said she’s aware of only “isolated” outages at this point. “Basically, it’s because of a delay in product getting to the end user,” she told South Carolina Radio Network. “We’re not seeing widespread outages. And I think the longest lasting one that I’ve heard is a handful of hours.
She said those outages are more likely at independent “Mom and Pop” stations rather than national retailers, who have a steadier supply line and do not buy gas through “spot sales.” Outages are also more likely in rural areas and at those stations close to “tank farms” in Belton, North Augusta and Spartanburg that normally serve as terminals along the pipeline.
AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Tiffany Wright said drivers in South Carolina are seeing an average price of $2.04, up from last week’s average of $1.91. But she warns drivers not to rush out and buy gas because of what they see on the news. She said a surge in buying makes gas shortages more likely.
“When situations like this happen, unfortunately it creates a panic and a nervousness. And that’s why motorists are rushing out the pump to fill up. Unfortunately, that’s what has the tendency to create the shortage.”
Loomis said there is adequate supply now, but only if drivers don’t react to reports of shortages and buy more gas than they otherwise would. “‘Adequate supply’ is based on normal buying patterns,” she said. “It is not based on people stockpiling or continuing to top off their tank multiple times per week when that’s not a part of their typical buying pattern.”
Gov. Nikki Haley has issued an executive order that will temporarily eliminate a limit on truckers’ driving hours, which she hopes will allow tanker truck drivers additional time to increase their fuel deliveries. The governor also issued a second order Monday that temporarily put aside requirements on registration, permitting, truck length/width and load. Her counterparts in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have done the same.
Colonial now says it’s beginning construction of a temporary pipeline that will bypass the leaking section of its main line. The Birmingham Real-Time News reports the company gave no timetable Saturday as to when the bypass would be finished.