Nearly a week after a section of a key gasoline pipeline was closed in Alabama, officials are saying the issue could lead to higher prices at the pump and temporary outages in East Tennessee until next week.
The Colonial pipeline supplies gas to most of the East Coast, running from Texas to New Jersey. Crews had to partially close the pipeline after a leak was found in Alabama, and repairs have been set back by bad weather.
The closure has created a tighter supply of gasoline to parts of the Southeast, raising prices slightly and causing partial outages here in Tennessee and elsewhere across the region.
AAA said the Southeast has a healthy backstock of crude oil and gasoline, but prices at the pump are dependent on the "just-in-time" inventory and are kept low by the quick delivery of the pipeline.
"While there is plenty of gasoline and crude supply, the pipeline is the most efficient way to deliver the product to Tennessee," said Stephanie Milani, the Tennessee Public Affairs Director of AAA. “I anticipate tanker trucks from Memphis and Kentucky will bring in gasoline supplies to Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville over the next several days.”
Tom Kloza, Global Head of Energy Analysis for Oil Price Information Service, said it will take until next week before the normal volume of gasoline can be shipped.
I do not anticipate areas where motorists won’t be able to find gasoline, but you could see some locations in Tennessee where there are occasional outages of regular gas,” said Kloza. “This will not persist, and indeed the price increases you’ll see do not represent a trend.”
The closure has rattled Alabama and Georgia in particular. Both states' governors declared a state of emergency over concerns of fuel shortages in the wake of the pipeline leak. The orders were created to allow fuel truck drivers to work longer and drive past their maximum hour limits to bring in more fuel.
Currently Tennessee’s gasoline average is $2.01, an increase of one cent from Thursday.National, state and metro-averages are available from AAA at GasPrices.AAA.com
(© 2016 WBIR)