Colonial Pipeline leak causes concern but no real problems locally

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    By David Meade

    A leak in one of the largest gasoline supply pipelines in the country has caused some supply concerns locally but no real problems. The spill on the Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Texas to New Jersey, was discovered two weeks ago in Alabama. The pipeline runs through South Carolina with distribution facilities located in Cheddar that supply gasoline to the area.

    The Colonial pipeline carries 1.3 million barrels per day of gasoline from the refining hub on the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. According to reports, Colonial has built a 500- to 700-foot bypass line to resume full operations of the line which is expected to operate at reduced pressure around the damaged section. Colonial officials said the pipeline could still maintain normal flow rates.

    The leak, discovered by a mining inspector who smelled a fuel odor in Helena, Alabama, released about 6,000 to 8,000 barrels (252,000-336,000 gallons) of gasoline. The cause of the leak remains unknown.

    The restart of the main Line 1 is expected today, (Wed. Sept. 21). Upon successful completion of testing, Colonial Pipeline will begin the process of tying the bypass segment into Line 1 and preparing for a safe restart. When the line restarts, it will take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal, and some markets served by the pipeline may experience “intermittent service interruptions,” Colonial officials said.

    As a result of the leak, retail gas prices have been increasing and are expected to continue to climb until supplies catch up. Colonial officialssay some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions. Colonial continues to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.

    Georgia has been the hardest hit, with gasoline prices rising 4.5 cents from Monday to Tuesday. At $2.361 per gallon of regular gasoline, the cost of fuel has risen by more than 25 cents in a week, compared with an increase of just over 3 cents nationwide, according to motorist advocacy group AAA.

    Due to the shortage gas prices have been steadily increasing. Average retail gasoline prices in the Greenville area have risen 26.2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.18 per gallon Sunday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 452 gas outlets in Greenville. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.7 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.20 per gallon , according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

    Including the change in gas prices in Greenville during the past week, prices yesterday were 26.2 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 34.9 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 5.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 9.3 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

    Since the shut down on Friday, Sept. 9, gas deliveries were reduced and inventories at many gas stations across the southeast quickly depleted as panicked motorists filled their tanks, leading to gas price spikes, supply outages and headaches in six primary states: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia,” a spokesperson for Gasbuddy said.

    Locally, some gas stations were running low or completely out of gas by Friday evening and Saturday morning as word got out about a possible shortage. Some people were filling smaller gas containers in addition to their vehicles, adding to the shortage problem. Though there were lines at some stations early Saturday, by Sunday things had calmed down.In the Greenville area Sunday, most stations appeared to be business as usual without worries of a shortage.

    On Monday, some local stations were unable to receive their normal shipments. The Fast Fuel on West Main Street was out of gas and only had diesel available on Tuesday.