Colonial Pipeline temporarily shuts down 2 fuel lines as Hurricane Ida makes landfall

The average cost of gas in North Carolina sits at 2.8887 while the national average is 3.148 on Sunday, according to the AAA.
As Hurricane Ida made landfall in the U.S., Colonial Pipeline closed two of its fuel lines from Texas to North Carolina as a "precautionary and routine safety measure."

Colonial expects the pipeline to return to full service as the storm moves out of the region but will first be subject to evaluations and "successful execution of the company's start-up plan."

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, says shutting down lines during a storm is not an uncommon practice and believes the aftermath of Ida isn't likely to lead to "drastic price increases" but says there may be some increases in the next two weeks.

The average cost of gas in North Carolina sits at 2.8887, which is 4 cents cheaper than a month ago but 75 cents more expensive than last year at this time. On Sunday, the national average was 3.148, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

"Motorists will likely see gas prices fluctuate leading into Labor Day weekend because of Ida's effects on the Gulf Coast," said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson for AAA in the Carolinas. "Where gas prices go from here will depend on the extent of the damage and how long it'll take for production and transportation lines to return to normal."

Hurricane Ida made landfall along the Gulf Coast Sunday afternoon, a region populated with offshore oil rigs, coastal crude oil refineries, terminals and ports. Refineries in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama account for more than 45% of the nation's capacity for refining crude oil into gasoline and other products.

Patrick De Haan with Gas Buddy does not expect you to notice a drastic increase in prices.

"It's not going to be an overnight spike," De Hann said. "You're not going to wake up tomorrow and see prices that are 25 or 50 cents a gallon higher, but it's going to be more of an increase measured in cents per gallon I would estimate that over the next couple of weeks we could see prices go up maybe 5 to much as 15 cents

He said it is up to the public to not create a shortage.

"There is not going to be any shortage because of the hurricane, but if everyone decides to go up and fill up then there could be problems," De Haan said.

He said your wallet shouldn't suffer for long as this is "a temporary situation."

The company says prior to Hurricane Ida it implemented its own emergency response plan to continue safe operation of the pipeline which included reviewing protocol, ensuring emergency response equipment was up to date, reviewing contracts and monitoring forecast systems.

Earlier this year, Colonial Pipeline was forced to go offline after a large-scale ransomware attack that led many to panic buy and an eventual gas shortage across the southern U.S.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors and colleagues across the southern coastline impacted by this extreme weather event," said Wes Dunbar, vice president of operations for Colonial Pipeline. "As part of our weather preparedness and response plans, we have procedures in place to ensure the safety, protection and integrity of our pipeline and our assets - including proactively shutting down our lines when necessary."
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.