Shutdown of Alabama pipeline could raise Tennessee gas prices, cause shortages

Some East Tennessee stations running out of gas

colonial pipeline

10:30 p.m.

WKRN reports around 30 Kroger stations around Middle Tennessee are without gas. Spokeswoman Melissa Eads says deliveries are planned for those stores, though, with some getting deliveries Friday night and others Saturday morning.

Some East Tennesseans have been posting to social media that stations around Knoxville are out of gas as well.

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5:45 p.m.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam waived federal hours of service requirements for petroleum transportation to prevent fuel supply disruptions for Tennesseans from the Colonial pipeline leak in Alabama. The emergency declaration will allow drivers to work longer hours to ensure petroleum is available to convenience stores, fuel retailers, and fuel wholesalers in Tennessee.

“This is a precautionary measure as we are not currently seeing any widespread unavailability of petroleum in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “We urge Tennesseans to maintain their normal fuel purchasing and driving patterns to help prevent any potential impacts on our fuel supply while the pipeline undergoes repairs.”

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Colonial Pipeline that supplies much of the gas to East Tennessee has been partially closed since September 9 after a leak was discovered in Alabama.

Colonial Pipeline Company said in a release that they were initially planning on having the pipeline open by the weekend, but bad weather has delayed the fix. AAA of Knoxville said the tighter tighter supply may drive up the price of crude and gasoline in Tennessee. Other states that could be directly impacted by the tighter supply and slightly higher prices include Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

“While there is plenty of gasoline and crude supply, the pipeline is the most efficient way to deliver the product to Tennessee,” said Stephanie Milani, Tennessee Public Affairs Director, AAA—The Auto Club Group. “I anticipate tanker trucks from Memphis and Kentucky will bring in gasoline supplies to Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville over the next several days.”

Colonial Pipeline (AAA)
Colonial Pipeline (AAA)

Colonial Pipeline says Line 1 is expected to be repaired and restarted sometime next week. On Wednesday, the EPA sent a letter to Governor Bill Haslam and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal saying the agency was relaxing environmental standards in specific Georgia and Tennessee counties through 11:59 p.m. on September 15, in order to maintain the gas supply to those states.

“The issue with the pipeline’s closure is that we are north of where the closure is,” explained Milani.

In addition, she says places like Knoxville and Nashville are at the very end of the fingers of this pipeline.

“So it’s going to take more effort to get that to us,”  Milani said.

“I do not anticipate areas where motorists won’t be able to find gasoline, but you could see some locations in Tennessee where there are occasional outages of regular gas,” said Tom Kloza, Global Head of Energy Analysis for Oil Price Information Service. “This will not persist, and indeed the price increases you’ll see do not represent a trend.”

Currently Tennessee’s gasoline average is $2.01, an increase of one cent from Thursday.

The last time this pipeline had a closure was in September 2008, during Hurricane Ike. The area saw a huge impact.

“Knoxville had one of the highest prices in the entire nation and that’s unheard of. I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of that,” Milani said.

That being said, prices could spike. Gas stations in more rural and remote areas could close, causing drivers to take extra steps.

“Fill up as soon as possible, before then,” motorist Ricky Goins said.

“We will fill up both our vehicles before we find out it goes up,” Cheryl Howington said.

AAA says that may not be the most considerate move.

“I would suggest if you have a full tank of gas, don’t top it off just yet. Just to conserve for the rest of us,” Milani advised.

Neither Pilot, Kroger nor Weigels wanted to comment on the impact it’ll have on their supplies.

AAA reminds the public of the many apps available on your phone where you can find the cheapest gas closest to you.

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