Fallout over the Colonial Pipeline shutdown is already hitting drivers in their wallets with a spike in gasoline prices that likely will continue this week, AAA predicts.
Colonial Pipeline officials said a cyberattack Friday caused it to turn off operations as a precaution this weekend. The pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York Harbor, delivers nearly half the East Coast’s fuel.
The move increased the national average cost of a gallon of regular gas by 6 cents to about $2.97 on Monday compared to a week ago, AAA calculated.
The impact, so far, hasn’t been as severe in Illinois. Average gas costs per gallon in the Chicago suburbs were $3.30 Monday compared about $3.28 a week ago. On May 9, 2020, a gallon cost about $2.28 in the region.
It’s not clear when the entire pipeline will reopen.
“The impact will vary regionally,” AAA spokeswoman Molly Hart said in a statement. “Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the east coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week. These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.”
If U.S. averages reach $2.99 a gallon in a few days, it would be the highest nationwide since November 2014.
There is sufficient gasoline supply in the U.S., AAA explained, but the impact of the shutdown will likely roil prices this month even when the pipeline is back in business because it takes up to 18 days to get fuel flowing from Texas to New York.
The AAA warned consumers not to “panic buy,” but use common sense and conserve fuel when possible. Some easy ways include, avoiding rush-hour traffic, removing heavy objects from your vehicle, and trying to pack multiple errands into one trip.