AAA urges people not to 'panic buy' gasoline

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which transports gas from Texas to New York Harbor, has caused unwarranted panic buying.

The tri-state area receives about 45% of its gas from the Colonial Pipeline. There are other options too, including international imports, other pipelines and refineries. That means, don't panic, there's enough gas to go around here.

"We've got a number of resources for finished refined product such as gasoline," said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline Retailers Association.

In Durham, North Carolina, bags cover empty gas pumps as lines of cars stretch at open gas stations.

"It's a little wild, I think everybody panicked and that's why we ran out," said Sophia Douglas of North Carolina.

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"There is no need for anyone to stockpile gasoline. Widespread panic buying could result in unnecessary perceived shortages," Wolf said in a tweet.

According to Gas Buddy, 69% of gas stations in North Carolina have run out of fuel, 46% in Georgia, 48% in South Carolina and 52% in Virginia.

Here at home, there are no shortages or extreme lines at gas stations.

"I haven't seen anything in the tri-state area that we have any gas stations running out of gas," says AAA spokesperson, Jana Tidwell.

Action News found a crowd at a BJ's gas station in Elsmere, Delaware. Another bulk store, Costco in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, also had a long line of gas customers.

The ransomware cyberattack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline last Friday comes at a time when gas prices typically rise when we switch to summer fuel. There is also a shortage of fuel tank drivers.

"So there are really those two stories that are converging this week and unfortunately they are inciting panic buying," said Tidwell.

Dr. Eric Cole, a cybersecurity expert and author of the upcoming book 'Cyber Crisis,' says the attack on the Colonial Pipeline should serve as another wake-up call of why critical infrastructure should not be connected to the internet.

"If you go in and look at nuclear power plants, over the last three years, there are zero reported incidents because their systems are always isolated and never connected to the internet," said Dr. Cole.

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Some analysts blame COVID-19 for an apparent chicken supply shortage.

Colonial initiated the restart of pipeline operations late Wednesday, saying in a statement that "all lines, including those lateral lines that have been running manually, will return to normal operations."

But it will take several days for deliveries to return to normal, the company said.

"My prediction is it's probably going to be another 3 to 5 days of no gas, best case scenario. The worst-case scenario: we could be talking two to three weeks," said Dr. Cole.

The price of crude oil is $65 a barrel, raising the national gas price to $3.00 a gallon -- prices we haven't seen nationally since 2014. That could mean more expensive Memorial Day weekend travel.

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