The national average for gas prices has now surged to $3 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association, the most expensive since October 2014.
However, GasBuddy, which operates apps and websites based on finding real-time fuel prices at more than 140,000 gas stations, continues to attribute the rise to the COVID-19 recovery bringing life back to normal and leading to an increase in demand.
GasBuddy expects summer gas prices will settle in the upper $2 to low $3 per gallon range.
"Should any major refinery issues develop in the midst of the summer travel season, gas prices could become impacted in a large way, especially if the economy continues to see solid recovery and demand for fuels increases," the firm added.
According to the latest gasoline outage data shared by GasBuddy's senior petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan, North Carolina remains the state hardest hit by the disruption as of 6 a.m. CT, followed by Georgia at 15.4%, Virginia at 15%, South Carolina at 13.4%, Florida at 4.2%, Maryland at 3.5%, Tennessee at 2.8% and Alabama at 1.8%.
De Haan clarified that while the stations are reporting fuel outages, the situation appears to be that there are not enough truck drivers to transport existing fuel rather than not enough supply. He urged officials to send more trucks in to help alleviate the situation.
"When there's a huge storm in a big area, you see power trucks heading to the affected area," De Haan said. "Now is the time to have tanker trucks descend on the [South East] to help quell the situation."
Colonial Pipeline Co. said in an update on Tuesday evening that it was working around the clock to return its system to service as well as coordinating with the Department of Energy to provide fuel supply to market areas affected by the outages.
"Since our pipeline system was taken offline, working with our shippers, Colonial has delivered approximately 967,000 barrels (~41 million gallons) to various delivery points along our system," the company said. "This includes delivery into the following markets: Atlanta, Ga., Belton and Spartanburg, S.C., Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., Baltimore, Md., and Woodbury and Linden N.J."
In addition, Colonial has taken a delivery of an additional 2 million barrels (~84 million gallons) from refineries to be deployed upon the pipeline system's restart.
The Colonial Pipeline transports 100 million gallons of fuel each day, including 45% if all fuel consumed on the East Coast. Its products range from various grades of gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, jet fuel, and fuels for the U.S. military.
The company is aiming to substantially restore its system by the end of the week.