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Pipeline break causes local gas price hike, shortages

Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 at 7:56 am

By Brian Mosely, Editor

Did you pay too much for fuel, or wait in long lines this weekend?  It may have all depended where you went.

While the price of gas may have jumped as much as 30 cents over the weekend, as it did at the Marathon station next to the Coffee County Justice Center, the Kangaroo station at Exit 114 off of Interstate 24 had a load of fuel delivered early Monday morning, along with a lower price. -Staff photo by Brian Mosely

While the price of gas may have jumped as much as 30 cents over the weekend, as it did at the Marathon station next to the Coffee County Justice Center, the Kangaroo station at Exit 114 off of Interstate 24 had a load of fuel delivered early Monday morning, along with a lower price.
-Staff photo by Brian Mosely

While gas stations around the south reported their supplies had dried up, a pipeline company working to repair a break in Alabama said Monday it has worked “around the clock” to limit disruptions to the region’s gas supply.

Last week’s rupture and leak of more than 252,000 gallons of gas in Alabama has led to some shortages in Tennessee and fueled fears of more widespread shortages across the Southeast.

In a statement early Monday, Colonial Pipeline said supplies of gasoline have either been delivered or are on their way to terminal locations in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Local issues

In Manchester, gas prices and availability varied depending on where you did your business.

For example, at the Marathon station next to the Coffee County Justice Center, clerk Darlene Garner said they had received a fuel shipment Friday morning, before the news went out about possible shortages.

“We had no shortage problems, not at all,” she said. “There’s a lot more business than normal, but no shortage.”

The price at the Marathon station was $1.96 “when this all started, and its $2.29, so it’s not too bad,” Garner said.

But next to Interstate 24 was a different story — where the price was at $1.99 at two major fuel chains, with a gas truck unloading a shipment at the Kangaroo station at the 114 exit Monday morning.

The Kangaroo station was out of premium and extra unleaded fuel, but had plenty of regular gas for customers.

On Friday in Tullahoma, prices jumped as much as 30 cents in a matter of hours at some stations, while the supply at Kroger’s quickly ran out after customers rushed to fill up.

Long lines were observed at several of Tullahoma’s fueling spots, with folks not only filling up their vehicles, but gas containers as well.

Several stations in Manchester closed their pumps Saturday night because they ran out of fuel, but by Sunday, most of the stations were open for business again.

Up across state

Average retail gasoline prices in Tennessee have risen 13.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.12/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 3,821 gas outlets in Tennessee.

This compares with the national average that has increased 2.7 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.20/g, according to the gasoline price website

According to GasBuddy.com, prices Sunday were 12.9 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 18.6 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.

The national average had increased 5.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 9.3 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

“While gasoline prices have drifted lower in parts of the country, it’s impossible to ignore the elephant in the room: one of the largest gasoline pipelines in the country is out of service and a Band-Aid is not going to fix the problems in the Southeast as a result,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

DeHann explained that on Sept. 9, an Alabama mine inspector stumbled upon a large spill from Colonial Pipeline’s large Line 1 pipeline which spans from Texas to New Jersey, the artery and only major source of gasoline deliveries for much of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Since the shutdown — now entering its second week — fuel deliveries have all but halted and inventories at local gasoline racks have quickly been depleting as panicked motorists fill their tanks, leading to gas price spikes, supply outages and headaches in six primary states: Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, though prices in neighboring states and regions may also rise as gasoline supply is diverted, DeHann explained.

“This is among the largest outages of fuel since Superstorm Sandy in 2012,” he said.

According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on Monday in Tennessee have ranged widely over the last five years:

$1.99/g in 2015, $3.14/g in 2014, $3.27/g in 2013, $3.65/g in 2012 and $3.37/g in 2011.

Areas nearby Tennessee and their current gas price climate are:

  • Chattanooga- $2.15/g, up 20.8 cents per gallon from last week’s $1.95/g.
  • Nashville- $2.26/g, up 25.8 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.00/g.
  • Huntsville- $2.06/g, up 12.2 cents per gallon from last week’s $1.94/g

The Associated Press contributed to this report.