‘It’s important to reiterate that this is temporary’: Gas experts urge people not to panic-buy gasoline due to shortage

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UPDATE: Colonial Pipeline announced it had initiated a restart to its pipeline operations at approximately 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The company says this restart will take several days for product delivery supply chain to return to normal.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — AAA is urging against panic-buying of gasoline after the Colonial Pipeline, the largest refined product pipeline in the U.S. delivering fuel products from Houston to New York harbor, confirmed the company was a victim of a cybersecurity attack and productivity halted pipeline operations.

Some gas stations in Knoxville are already running out of select fuel types. Other gas stations had lines of cars already forming early Tuesday morning of people waiting at the pump to fill up their tank.

Gas experts are wanting people to know that panic buying only worsens the situation for everyone and warns against it.

“It’s just like the toilet paper,” said Nick Dean who stopped at an Exxon to fill up his tank. “You know what I mean? Like if you go like way too extreme that’s making the problem worse. So like hey, let’s calm down, take a moment, and then assess the situation.”

Megan Cooper with AAA said, “The issue with panic buying gasoline is that it removes that gasoline unnecessarily from the market.”

She wants people to know that this issue is just temporary.

“Right now we are not in a spot where we are having a gasoline shortage in the United States. There is an ample amount of gasoline supply across the country. However, we’re in a situation right now where we do have some limited availability.”

The shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline will have a varying impact on both gasoline supply and pump prices across the country the longer it’s offline.

“I’m filling up because the company like mandated that we had to fill up all the trucks so they’re making us do all that stuff,” laughed Dean.

AAA expects areas like Tennessee to experience limited fuel availability.

“We’re anticipating in Tennessee that we could see an increase in prices anywhere from 3 to 7 cents just this week,” Cooper explained. “Right now in Knoxville, your metro average is about 2 dollars and 73 cents.”

Dean said he’s not going to panic about the issue but he’s just staying alert.

“Let’s take a moment and not buy 400 rolls of toilet paper of fill like water jugs with gasoline. Let’s take a moment,” he said. “It’s going to spike for a little bit but it will go back down eventually. So I’m not too concerned.”

AAA said it’s important to note that there is not a gas shortage. It is just a matter of getting deliveries to stations to meet the demand.

They also said once the pipeline is running, the residual delivery impact may linger. That is because it can take 15-18 days for the pipeline to pump fuel from Texas to New Jersey.

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