Several gas stations along the East Coast ran out of fuel Tuesday as worried drivers aggressively filled their tanks.
Here's how we got here:
- What is Colonial Pipeline? The Colonial Pipeline system spans more than 5,500 miles and transports about 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast. It transports 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil.
- What happened: The run on fuel began after a ransomware attack Friday shut down the Colonial Pipeline. The company said Monday it hopes to be substantially operational by the end of the week after a hack that authorities believe was carried out by a criminal group called DarkSide. As of Tuesday, most of the pipeline remained offline.
- How is this impacting demand for gas? As of 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, 8.5% of gas stations in North Carolina and 7.7% in Virginia didn't have gasoline, according to outage figures reported by GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand. Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina also reported outages. Even GasBuddy itself reported out website outages as result of “extreme traffic.”
- What does this mean for prices at the pump? As demand shot up, the national price at the pump hit $2.985 on Tuesday, the highest level in nearly six years, according to AAA.
- How states are responding: Virginia's governor declared a state of emergency due to fuel shortages. Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and other state governments also stepped in to ease supply concerns. The Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency fuel waiver.
- What should you do? The best thing for car owners to do right now is take a deep breath and don't rush to fill your tanks unless you have to. A big part of the problem is panic, Tiffany Wright of AAA Carolinas said. "We are our own worst enemy in this situation because we are over-consuming at the pump."