RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — More than 450 gas stations in North Carolina and more than half in Raleigh ran out of fuel Tuesday, primarily because of what analysts say is unwarranted panic-buying among drivers, as the shutdown of a major pipeline by a gang of hackers entered its fifth day Tuesday.
Gasbuddy, which tracks stations that are out of fuel, reported 8.5 percent of nearly 5,400 stations in North Carolina were out of fuel during the fifth day of the Colonial Pipeline outage.
That statewide percentage increased to 14 percent by late Tuesday night. The service also reported late Tuesday that about 60 percent of all Raleigh gas stations were without fuel.
In Virginia, 7.7 percent of the state’s nearly 3,900 gas stations reported running out of fuel Tuesday, according to Gasbuddy.
A large part of the pipeline, including a segment in North Carolina, resumed operations manually late Monday, and Colonial anticipates restarting most of its operations by the end of the week, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.
Drivers may still feel a crunch because it takes a few days to ramp up operations, but she said there is no reason to hoard gasoline.
“We know that we have gasoline. We just have to get it to the right places,” she said.
S&P’s Oil Price Information Service put the number of gas stations encountering shortages at more than 1,000.
“A lot of that is because they’re selling three or four times as much gasoline that they normally sell in a given day, because people do panic,” said Tom Kloza, an analyst with S&P. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
There were scattered reports of higher gasoline prices, but prices were rising even before the pipeline incident heading into the busy summer driving season. Nevertheless, Granholm warned gas station owners, “We will have no tolerance for price gouging.”
The pipeline runs from the Texas Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan area. The states most dependent on the pipeline include Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, Kloza said.
North Carolina’s price gouging law is in effect on Tuesday after the governor declared a state of emergency over the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s state of emergency suspends motor vehicle fuel regulations “to ensure adequate fuel supply supplies throughout the state,” according to a news release from his office