Vehicles | May 11, 2021 5:28 pm

What You Need to Know About the Current Gas Shortages

After a cyberattack on a major pipeline, drivers are rushing to fill up and some stations are running dry

A person pumping gas into a vehicle at a gas station
Don't be the person who panic buys gas.
sippakorn yamkasikorn/Unsplash

“People do panic.”

That basic truth about humanity, manifested in panic buying during times of crisis, has played out a number of times of the past couple years. There was the great toilet paper shortage at the beginning of the pandemic, and now, after a cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline, some Americans are urgently filling up their cars and gas cans at the pump, leading to more than 1,000 gas stations running out of fuel by Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

“A lot of that is because they’re selling three or four times as much gasoline that they normally sell in a given day,” Tom Kloza, an analyst with S&P’s Oil Price Information Service, told the AP. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

While the COO of one energy company told Bloomberg the gas shortage is “going to be catastrophic,” the situation is changing rapidly, and you shouldn’t drop everything and speed to the fuel pump just yet.

As the AP noted, the pipe in question, run by Colonial Pipeline, “delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.” But at the moment, Bloomberg said the shortages have not reached the New York metro area. The states currently most affected are Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.

To help alleviate further gas shortages, President Joe Biden eased certain restrictions in order to bring more gasoline and diesel to affected states. Plus, there appears to be an end to the pipeline’s troubles in sight.

“Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told reporters Tuesday that a large part of the pipeline resumed operations manually late Monday, and Colonial will be able restart most of its operations by the end of the week,” wrote the AP. “Motorists may still feel a crunch because it takes a few days to ramp up operations, she said.”

While there may be a temporary gas shortage in your neck of the woods, don’t expect it to last long. The bigger worry should be about this kind of cyberattack happening again.