With some gas stations dry, pipeline works to send more fuel

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 19, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) — As some Georgia gas stations reported their fuel supplies had dried up, a pipeline company working to repair a break in Alabama said Monday it has worked “around the clock” to limit disruptions to the region’s gas supply.

Last week’s rupture and leak of more than 252,000 gallons (953,896 liters) of gas in Alabama has led to some gas shortages in Georgia and fueled fears of more widespread shortages across the Southeast.

In a statement early Monday, Colonial Pipeline said supplies of gasoline have either been delivered or are on their way to terminal locations in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Fuel supplies in those five states were threatened by the spill, and the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered Colonial to take corrective action.

The Alpharetta, Georgia-based company has two main lines. The company said Monday that it is shipping “significant volumes” on the second of the two lines to mitigate the impact of the interruption on the other line.

“We continue to be in regular communication with our customers, who are also working on their own individual contingency plans to minimize supply disruptions. This includes trucking and barging fuel from other markets and refineries,” the company said in Monday’s statement.

The company has acknowledged that between 252,000 gallons (953,896 liters) and 336,000 gallons (1,271,861 liters) of gasoline leaked from a pipeline near Helena, Alabama, since the spill was first detected Sept. 9. It’s unclear when the spill actually started.

Colonial Pipeline said over the weekend that it was beginning construction of a temporary pipeline that will bypass a leaking section of its main gasoline pipeline in Shelby County, Alabama. Its statement Monday did not say when that temporary pipeline is expected to be up and running.

Overnight, AAA reported the price of regular gas in Georgia jumped more than 5 cents from Sunday’s average of $2.26 to just over $2.31. The average price of regular gas in Georgia a week ago was around $2.10, AAA reported.

Drivers in the Atlanta area found some pumps completely dry or they had to pay 20 cents more because, according to a sign on the pump, the gas had to be pulled from Savannah.

An employee at a QuickTrip in Alpharetta, gasless since Saturday, said Sunday they don’t expect to refill until Wednesday or Thursday.

Ingles Gas Express in Hiawassee turned off their price sign lights in an area where gas is becoming scarce, an employee said.

“We just blanked out our sign,” said the Ingles employee, who did not want to disclose her name. “Other places are getting small shipments. We might get ours by Tuesday, but it’s still up in the air.”

A Shell station in Carrollton is only carrying premium grade, a worker said.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued an executive order last week to suspend limitations on trucking hours, allowing drivers to stay on the road longer to bring fuel into the state. The order said, however, that no motor carrier “shall require or allow an ill or fatigued driver to operate a motor vehicle.”


Stock image | Metro Graphics

By Jeff Martin and

Jonathan Landrum Jr.

Associated Press