Gas Prices and Supply – What You Need to Know

Gas Prices and Supply – What You Need to Know

Travelers: Use the AAA Mobile App to Help Verify Fuel Availability
April S. Engram
oil refinery

The recent jump in gas prices, high demand, news of fuel truck driver shortage, and now the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline has many motorists concerned about fuel availability and cost. The worst thing drivers can do right now: panic-buy. AAA has details on the contributing factors of cost and availability, the latest pipeline developments, some good news to share, and advice on how you can conserve your fuel consumption and easily plan ahead.

The Big Picture
The nation was already facing rising gas prices this spring due to increased road travel and a rise in fuel demand. Then came the news that, nationally, there is a shortage of fuel delivery truck drivers. And now, with more Americans on the road, the Colonial Pipeline is shut down due to the recent cyberattack.

At this time, there is no word on when the Colonial Pipeline will be operational again, but the company’s latest statement says they hope to be up and running by the end of the week. They also shared that its Line 4, which runs from Greensboro, NC to Woodbine, MD, is operating under manual control for a limited period while existing inventory is available. While the main lines continue to be offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational. 

Colonial says they are evaluating fuel inventory in storage tanks at their facilities and will work with shippers to move it to terminals for local delivery. The full impact of the shutdown is dependent on how long the pipeline is offline and, as a result, supply and price will vary across the region.  

Though the situation is shifting daily, as of Tuesday, we know that supply concern is expected for coastal states – especially from Tennessee/Mississippi to Georgia and into Delaware. The Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) reports that some product terminals in the south have already reported outages of some gasoline or are expecting to see outages within the next 24 hours. This will mean the start of delayed deliveries for stations, which will result in limited fuel availability at some gas stations.

Travelers should use the AAA Mobile App to locate nearby stations and call ahead to confirm they have gasoline – the phone numbers are listed right on the app!

If drivers in other parts of the country see low to no fuel in certain markets, that more than likely is due to delayed deliveries we were already experiencing from the shortage of fuel truck drivers. However, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) “hours of service exemption” should help alleviate the situation, allowing fuel truck drivers to work overtime.

The Good News
Yet, there is good news to share, there is ample gas supply in the United States. It is just a matter of getting deliveries to stations to meet demand. And, while the pipeline is shutdown, there are other fuel delivery alternatives. This includes foreign gasoline imports and other pipelines, which will largely supplement Northeastern supply.

Motorists may feel the need to panic-buy, but a little bit of planning can ease concerns. Currently, there are no reported shortages in the WNY and CNY areas. AAA will continue to monitor the situation, especially as it relates to Memorial Day travel, and provide updated analysis. AAA has tips so you can plan your next road trip accordingly and conserve fuel consumption.

Travel Tips During Fuel Availability Concerns

  • AAA advises against carrying extra gasoline in your vehicle – it is dangerous and can prove deadly. 
  • Consider filling up when you have a quarter of a tank of fuel remaining. 
  • Use the AAA Mobile App. If you are traveling, use the AAA app to locate nearby stations and call ahead to confirm they have gasoline.
    • Be sure to understand the fuel supply circumstances in areas you are traveling through and to on your road trip.

Tips to Conserve Gas Consumption 

  • Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible avoid high-traffic times of day.
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey. 
  • Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, as speeds increase above 50 mph, aerodynamic drag causes fuel economy to drop off significantly. 
  • Avoid hard acceleration starts – it increases fuel consumption. 
  • Avoid extended idling like warming up the engine, it burns fuel. Many newer cars have automatic engine stop-start systems to help with this. 
  • Use cruise control to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel.

The AAA mobile app is a great resource not only for finding the lowest gas prices in your area, but to request roadside service, map your road trip, and more! Download the free app today!

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