ByPatrick Phillips|May 12, 2021 at 10:28 AM EDT - Updated May 12 at 10:35 AM
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Despite pleas from leaders and officials to not panic-buy gasoline, gas stations across the state are running on empty, a petroleum analyst says.
GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan said that as of Wednesday morning, 13.4% of the state’s gas stations are without gas.
Those outages are part of nearly 1,800 stations reported with no gas across, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas and Virginia, he said.
As of 7 a.m., he said South Carolina was still faring better than some other states in terms of gas stations that had run out of fuel.
In some large southeastern cities, more than half of stations were reportedly out of gas. DeHaan said 60% of Atlanta stations were without gas, while that number rose to 71% in Charlotte, 72% in Raleigh and 73% in Pensacola.
One of the highest percentages, however, is in the Upstate of South Carolina, which also includes the Asheville, North Carolina, area. DeHaan said approximately 78% of stations in that large area were reportedly without fuel.
SC gov: ‘No need to rush to top off your gas tanks’
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster urged people Tuesday not to hoard fuel.
“There is no need to rush to top off your gas tanks or hoard gas,” the governor posted on Twitter. “The pipeline is expected to resume operations by the end of the week.”
McMaster said because the state is currently under a state of emergency, transportation waivers and price gouging laws are in effect to “facilitate fuel delivery and protect consumers.”
He also said his office has been in constant contact with the Office of Regulatory Staff about the shutdown, adding, “We stand ready to take any additional action that may be necessary.”
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson warned that laws against price gouging at the pump were in effect. The price gouging law is a general prohibition of “unconscionable prices” during times of disaster.
Wilson said the price gouging law took effect after he declared an abnormal disruption in the market following the hacking of the pipeline.
Wilson says price gougers can be charged for excessive pricing, a misdemeanor offense punishable with a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
Examples or documentation of gouging can be sent firstname.lastname@example.org, orentered into a form at the Attorney General’s website.Concerned citizens can also call 803-737-3953 if they have witnessed a likely violation, Wilson said.
‘There is no fuel shortage,’ analysts say
“It’s not that we have a gasoline shortage; it’s that we have this supply crunch.” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “Let me emphasize that much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline.”
DeHaan said he expected improvements in gas outages overnight. But he also insisted there is no shortage of gasoline.
“The fuel is there,” he said, reminding drivers that if they don’t need to fill their tank right away, they should wait.
A ransomware attack shut down the Colonial Pipeline on Friday. It is still mostly offline, but Colonial Pipeline officials have said they expect to have the pipeline operational by the end of the week.
The 5,500-mile pipeline supplies about 45% of all fuel used on the East Coast, where nervous drivers have been lining up and filling up.
AAA said the price of a gallon of gas has shot up 6 cents in the last week, reaching $3.008 on Wednesday, the highest national average for a gallon of regular fuel since 2014, DeHaan said.
The lowest price for gas in the Lowcountry as of Wednesday morning was at the Walterboro CITGO on South Jefferies Boulevard at $2.55 per gallon. That’s an increase of six cents per gallon over Tuesday’s lowest pump price.
The lowest price for gas in the Tri-County area was at a Sam Rittenberg Boulevard Speedawy, which listed a gallon of regular gasoline at $2.57.
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