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Does the Colonial Pipeline shutdown impact the rise in Kentucky gas prices?

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Posted at 12:07 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 17:36:03-04

(LEX 18) — People across the country are paying more to fill up their vehicles. That's assuming they can find a gas station that has fuel for them.

The hacking of the Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, is causing headaches for millions of drivers.

Where is the Colonial Pipeline?

As you can see in the map below, the pipeline does not run through Kentucky, but it does span across one of our bordering states: Virginia.

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Another line does branch out from the pipeline to bring fuel to Tennessee.

There currently is not a widespread fuel shortage, according to the White House. Still, the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack does have people on edge, which now has some consumers panic buying and stocking up on gas. Oil analysts believe that the increase in sales will lead to more than a thousand gas stations in the country running out soon.

The White House insists there should be no cause for hoarding gas.

"The pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend," said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

What are gas prices like now in Kentucky?

AAA says Kentucky's average for a gallon of gas is $2.86. Nationally, AAA says prices shot up around six cents in the last week.

Here in Kentucky, gas prices have gone up by more than 15 cents for a regular gallon of gas.

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How much will it cost me to fill up now?

AAA has estimated it will cost you the following for a gallon of gas at these Kentucky counties:

  • Anderson County: $2.88
  • Bourbon County: $2.84
  • Clark County: $2.87
  • Fayette County: $2.87
  • Franklin County: $2.87
  • Jessamine County: $2.70
  • Madison County: $2.89
  • Scott County: $2.86
  • Woodford County: $2.90

For a closer look at gas prices where you live, click here to see a map that lists gas prices in your county. You can also track the nearest gas station near you to see if they're open.

GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan reported Wednesday that the increased demand has driven the national average for a gallon of gasoline to above $3 for the first time in nearly seven years.

De Haan also reports that gasoline shortages are mostly concentrated in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. According to his analysis, 25% of all gas stations in North Carolina are currently without gas. There is no gas shortage in Kentucky.

In Lexington specifically, gas prices are lower than the national average, at around $2.85 a gallon.

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Will the Colonial Pipeline shutdown make gas prices continue to go up in the state?

The short answer, for now, is: no. Experts say the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline won't have much of an impact on Kentucky gas prices. However, experts also admit that the longer the pipeline is shut down, the more the impact could spread through the entire region.

Governor Beshear says Kentuckians should "take a breath and stay calm" about concerns about the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

"We have a pretty good infrastructure in Kentucky for our gasoline supply," said Gov. Beshear. "Provided that everybody stays calm ... there should be enough for everyone."

Why are gas prices increasing in Kentucky then?

Lori Weaver Hawkins, who works for AAA Bluegrass, tells LEX 18 the increase in prices is likely because of the lift in COVID-19 restrictions. Hawkins says more Kentuckians are beginning to buy more fuel than normal as they make summer travel plans.

"There is a great deal of pent-up desire to travel and we are seeing folks booking travel and planning road trips," said Hawkins. "The latest research we had seen shows that three-quarters of the population is either planning a road trip or in the process of doing so."

As a result, some gas stations in Kentucky are seeing long lines and limiting sales. In Pikeville, the Double Kwik Gas Station is limiting sales to $30 in gas (pre-paid only).

Fears of a fuel shortage are causing Kentuckians in Casey County to reportedly hoard gas. The Dairy Mart in Liberty says they were out of gas for several hours Tuesday due to skyrocketing demand.

"I had this one customer, he came in and gave me 40 dollars and then he came back and he gave me another 15 dollars," said Miranda Summers, who works at the Dairy Mart. "We're probably going to run out. If we don't run out today, we're definitely gonna run out tomorrow and we're gonna need another delivery."

The Dairy Mart ended up selling $14,000 worth of fuel on Tuesday.

What should I do now?

Experts say even though people are fearful of a fuel shortage, the last thing they should do is panic buy. That could lead to a real shortage of gas and a major price hike as a result.