Local News

NC stations run out of gas after ruptured pipeline leads to shortage

Posted September 18, 2016 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated September 18, 2016 9:56 p.m. EDT

— Some stations have run out of gas and prices are climbing after a leak that shut down a portion of the Colonial Pipeline in Alabama.

The Sheetz stations off Lufkin Road in Apex and on Broad Street in Fuquay-Varina have become examples of what many gas station owners fear after they ran out of everything but diesel gas.

Throughout the region, gas prices are going up and lines at gas stations are long as people rush to fill up their tanks before the supply is gone.

North Carolina is one of about five states in the southeast dealing with the shortage after the pipeline, which carries fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast and supplies gasoline for an estimated 50 million people on the east coast, was shut down Sept. 9 after it spilled about 250,000 gallons.

One Raleigh gas station owner said he placed an order for gas four days ago and still hasn’t received it. He said the shipments usually take about a day or two.

The owner’s brother said he is now using what he would normally consider his “reserve supply.”

“Normally when he orders, he leaves something in the tank so it can last him until he receives the order but now he’s using what he would normally reserve until he receives the next order,” said Mohammed Issa.

As demand increased, prices at the gas station jumped from $2.09 at 4 p.m. to $2.25 at about 7 p.m.

Issa said he hopes the gas will last through Monday and that his brother will address the next step when he reaches it.

"He assumes maybe a day or a day and a half at the most. That's what he has reserved in the tanks now," Issa said.

In Clayton, cars lined up at a Speedway station on N.C. Highway 42 after residents learned the station was still selling gas. The supply ran out after 8 p.m. and cars who were waiting in line for their turn at the pump had to be turned away.

The Twitter account for the Colonial Pipeline said Saturday that they have started a plan to construct a bypass line. Colonial Pipeline officials said they expect to have the bypass in place sometime this week. Once the bypass is completed, it will take one day to test and get the line operational. About 700 people are currently working on the project, the company said.

Colonial Pipeline said the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a waiver to allow the sale of reformulated and conventional gasoline in markets impacted by the pipeline spill.

On Thursday, Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order temporarily waiving hours of service restrictions for fuel vehicles traveling through the state to prevent disruptions at major fuel distribution hubs. A second executive order was issued Friday that waived additional trucking restrictions and protected consumers from price gouging. Both orders remain in effect for 30 days.

"Based on our ongoing updates from Colonial, the construction of a bypass pipeline is moving forward, which will soon allow fuel supply operations to return to normal. In the meantime, my executive orders remain in effect to protect motorists from excessive gas prices and minimize any interruptions in the supply of fuel," McCrory said in a statement Sunday night.