Early Tuesday afternoon, spokesmen for several convenience stores in Wilkes County said they were out of gas and spokesmen for others said they expected to go dry before the end of the day.
Prices were steadily climbing at stores that still had gas. The amounts that could be purchased per customer were limited at many establishments.
The situation resulted from Colonial Pipeline shutting down its main line, which runs from Texas to New York Harbor.
Over the weekend, Colonial announced it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack and, as a precaution, shut down the main pipeline. Some lateral lines have reopened, but there is no word of when the mainline, including the gasoline line, will be operational.
“The impact of this pipeline outage will vary regionally,” said Tiffany Wright, a spokesman for AAA Carolinas. “The outage will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices. The longer it is offline, the larger the impact on the east coast.”
Wright said U.S. Department of Transportation’s temporary hours-of-service exemption for tanker trucks transporting gasoline and other fuels will help 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.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Monday declaring a state of emergency in North Carolina. The order suspended motor vehicle fuel regulations to help guarantee the state has adequate fuel supply.
A spokesman for the Run-In convenience store on Oakwoods Road in Wilkesboro said her district manager said gas at the Run-In stores comes from Colonial Pipeline. The spokesman said she expected her store to run out of gas by the end of the day.
A spokesman for Wilkes Oil Co. in North Wilkesboro, where vehicles were lined up early Tuesday afternoon, said Wilkes Oil was low on all of the different types of fuel it sells. “We don’t know when we’ll be able to get more,” she said.