Panic-buying, not pipeline closure, could lead to shortage in fuel

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A cyber hack on The Colonial Pipeline, which is the company that supplies the majority of the east coast’s fuel, is creating alarm among drivers. But several agencies say there’s no reason to panic.

Since the pipeline is temporarily down, the gas supply exists but it’s not moving. A shortage will come from consumers panic buying before the pipeline is back up and running.

Tiffany Wright, a representative of AAA Carolinas, stresses that there’s no need to panic.

“It’s not that there’s not enough supply, it’s that we’re overconsuming and that’s what we’re seeing with these shortages that are kind of sporadic throughout the Carolinas,” explained Wright. “You don’t need to top off your car unnecessarily. You don’t need to bring in your entire family fleet of cars and bring in gas cans we’re seeing that as well. That is in fact what leads to shortages.”

Long lines at local gas stations show the chaos as people top off their tanks.

“I wanted to come here and get gas before it got too bad. I expected it to be like the hurricane season. You know like when everyone’s lined up…I expected it to be like that or probably worse than that,” said a local woman, Grace.

Governor Henry McMaster released the following statement on the pipeline hack:

“My office has been in constant contact with the Office of Regulatory Staff regarding the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline and we stand ready to take any additional action that may be necessary. Because our state is currently under a state of emergency, transportation waivers and price gouging laws are in effect to facilitate fuel delivery and protect consumers. There is no need to rush to top off your gas tanks or hoard gas – the pipeline is expected to resume operations by the end of the week.”


According to Gas Buddy, as of Tuesday morning, only 2% of gas stations in South Carolina and less than 1% in the Charleston area are out of fuel.

You can keep up with gas stations in your area with this interactive map from Gas Buddy.

Due to the pipeline being down, gas prices have risen in the last week, and the longer it is down, the bigger price spike we could see.

“Gas prices have gone up five, six, seven cents overnight and as long as this pipeline stays offline, unfortunately, we’re going to see more of an increase,” said Wright.

Leaders say conserving fuel is key as Colonial Pipeline works to resume operations.

“You can park your car in a shaded area and use a windshield visor,” said Wright. “That helps keep the inside cool which helps you not run the A/C as much. If you have multiple errands to run, just do it in one trip.”

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