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Ruptured pipeline could mean higher gas prices, shortages in NC

September 17, 2016 GMT

Gas prices could be going up due to an East Coast supply problem.

A section of the Colonial Pipeline, which carries fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast, was shut down last Friday after it spilled about 250,000 gallons in Alabama. The pipeline’s operator has said full service won’t be restored until at least next week.

The pipeline provides gasoline for an estimated 50 million people on the East Coast, and gas stations are already starting to see a fuel shortage. An Exxon station near the State Farmers Market in Raleigh, for example, placed an order for 10,000 gallons of gas, but its supplier delivered only 1,000 gallons.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed an executive order Thursday waiving restrictions on hours for fuel trucks traveling in and through North Carolina in an effort to prevent possible disruptions and backups at fuel distribution hubs.

The lack of supply, along with increased transportation costs to get fuel to area gas stations, could start driving up prices at the pump.

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“It’s already $2.09, and I just spent $30 to fill up my gas tank. That’s’ a lot,” said Tiffany Long, a North Carolina State University freshman from Roxboro. “I do travel back home and to school, and it’s kind of big deal if you don’t have money to fill up your gas tank.”

Petroleum experts say any spike would be temporary, but they’re keeping an eye on prices.

Drivers like Wayne Ellers are used to price fluctuations, however.

“It’s supply and demand, that’s what it is,” Ellers said. “It goes up fast, it goes down slow.”