“This situation is out of control,” De Haan said. “Stations fill their storage tanks, and then people run through their supplies. I don’t believe that will stop for another week, maybe two, and then fully return to normal in three or four.”
The Colonial Pipeline, which is the primary diesel and gasoline pipeline serving America’s East Coast, has already restarted their operations, but warned that some people might experience “intermittent interruptions during the restarting phase.”
As of Thursday, nearly three-quarters of stations in the state of North Carolina did not have gasoline, while around half in Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina were empty.
De Haan warns that those figures could go higher over the next 48 hours before lowering.
He says that people hoarding gas are causing the situation to get worse, along with the compounded problem of their being a trucker shortage.
“A lot of this is because motorists have chosen to panic buy and even hoard gasoline in some circumstances,” he said. “It’s become a drive to get fuel without pipelines, and then the trucker shortage comes in. It’s impossible for trucks to replenish after drivers have boosted their demand to fill up.”
“It will be a challenge for these stations. The problem is not the Colonial Pipeline but getting fuel to those stations. There’s not enough truckers or capacity for all those cars and trucks to fill up…. Even if the Colonial Pipeline was going well last week, this kind of demand would strain the system,” added De Haan.
The surge in demand has brought gasoline prices up. The nationwide average increased over $3 per gallon on Thursday to $3.03, the highest since 2014.