The national average price of gasoline passed the $3 per gallon mark on May 12, according to GasBuddy — the most expensive it’s been since November 2014.
Gas prices have climbed this week in reaction to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which delivers approximately 45% of all fuel to the East Coast, according to AAA. Over the weekend, the Colonial Pipeline announced it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack and, as a precaution, shut down the pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York Harbor.
According to AAA, while there is sufficient gasoline supply in the U.S. (235.8 million bbl), other pipelines and the Department of Transportation’s temporary hours-of-service exemption for tanker trucks transporting gasoline and other fuels, will be able to ease the strain, but not resolve the issues caused by the pipeline interruption. Once the pipeline is up and running, there could still be residual delays as it takes about 15-18 days for fuel to flow from Texas to New York.
Gasoline Outages by state, percent of all stations without gasoline:
WASH DC 10%
— Patrick De Haan ⛽️📊 (@GasBuddyGuy) May 12, 2021
“While this is not a milestone anyone wants to celebrate, it’s a sign that things are slowly returning to normal,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “In this case, rising gas prices are a sign Americans are getting back out into the world — attending baseball games, going to concerts, taking a road trip — basically staying anywhere but at home. This summer may see some blockbuster demand for fuel as well, as Americans find it very challenging to travel internationally, leading many to stay in the confines of U.S. borders, boosting some weeks to potentially record gasoline demand.”
GasBuddy expects summer gas prices not to set records, but settle down to levels more similar to 2018 — the national average briefly rising above $3 per gallon but eventually falling back under and remaining in the upper $2 to low $3 per gallon range. Should any major refinery issues develop in the midst of the summer travel season, gas prices could become impacted in a large way, especially if the economy continues to see solid recovery and demand for fuels increases.