The national average gas prices in the US have increased above $3 a gallon for the first time since 2014 amid the six-day shutdown of a major fuel pipeline following a cybersecurity attack.
On average, Americans on Wednesday paid $3.008 for a gallon of gas, up from $2.985 the previous day and $2.927 one week ago; Xinhua news agency quoted the American Automobile Association (AAA) as saying.
The US auto club on Monday had forecasted gas prices to climb this week in reaction to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which delivers approximately 45 percent of all fuel to the East Coast.
“This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally,” AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee said in a statement on Monday.
“Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the east coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases,” McGee said, adding these states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday urged Americans not to hoard gasoline.
“It’s not that we have a gasoline shortage. It’s that we have this supply crunch. And that things will be back to normal soon,” she said.
On Wednesday evening, Colonial Pipeline announced that the first step in the restart process started at approximately 5 p.m.
“Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.
“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period,” it added.
However, a growing number of gas stations along the East Coast are without fuel as the panic-buying continued amid concerns over the shortage of gas.
As of Wednesday morning, 28.2 percent of all gas stations in North Carolina, 17.45 percent in Georgia, and 17.09 percent in Virginia were without gasoline, according to the latest data from GasBuddy, which tracks fuel demand, prices, and outages.
The Colonial Pipeline Company temporarily halted all pipeline operations after the cybersecurity attack involving ransomware was detected on May 7.
The Colonial Pipeline is the largest refined-products pipeline in the US, transporting more than 100 million gallons of fuel daily on the East Coast.