Don’t panic — regardless of rumors, gas is not projected to be unavailable for long periods of time at any point soon.
Rolling, isolated fuel outages have been occurring due to a damaged pipeline — the Colonial Pipeline — in Alabama, say officials. However, Colonial Pipeline is constructing an above-ground bypass for the damaged Line 1 pipeline and targeting to restart full operations on Line 1 later this week. Colonial is trucking and barging fuel from other markets and refineries.
The Colonial Pipeline supplies more than 70 percent of all liquid fuels to Tennessee, according to a release from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
Locally, Middlesboro’s Kroger has been affected and had “out” signs on the top two grades of fuel on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Kroger associate manager Connie Hoskins, their gas is supplied through Tennessee, one of the five southeast states affected by the damaged pipeline.
“Our supply comes through Knoxville,” she said. “We’re hoping to get a truck tonight.”
Colonial shut its main gasoline and distillate lines that run from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast on Sept. 9 after a leak was discovered in Shelby County, Alabama. The damaged Line 1 can carry 1.2 million barrels of gasoline per day and runs from Houston to Greensboro, North Carolina, according to a release.
Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock said that “it appears to be a short-term issue with little effect here, other than an increase in prices.”
“The pipeline in Alabama that had a rupture and spill does not directly supply East Tennessee,” said Claiborne County Director of Emergency Management David Breeding. “Panic buying and attempting to store fuel has created some shortages in East Tennessee, but it’s fully expected to replenish.”
In response to the increase in prices and panic buying, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam declared a state of emergency signing waivers for fuel supply transportation enabling longer work hours and to prevent undue price increases.
Breeding added that there is an official Tennessee government website to report price gouging if you think that is occurring: https://tn.gov/com…/article/consumer-price-gouging-complaint.
Haslam’s executive order will be in place until Sept. 23 unless the current situation has not resolved itself. Governors in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia have also issued executive orders waiving hours-of-service requirements for petroleum truckers as their states experience supply disruption due to excessive petroleum demand.
TEMA officials say if consumers will maintain their normal fuel-buying habits, refilling tanks when near empty and not filling multiple gasoline containers at pumps, there is enough fuel supply to meet needs.
“The pipeline disruption is only temporary. There are other pipelines supplying fuel to Tennessee, and the fuel transportation companies now have more time to make deliveries with Gov. Haslam’s executive order,” the release states.
“We will stay on top this incident and provide any further information as necessary,” said Breeding. “Please continue to observe your normal driving and purchasing habits.”
Reach Marisa Anders at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.