Southwest Virginia could see lasting impacts of Colonial Pipeline shutdown

One driver says gas prices are ‘going to be burdensome on the pocket, that’s for sure’

The Colonial Pipeline is back open, but the panic at the pump caused by the perceived gas shortage could have lasting impacts.

ROANOKE, Va. – The Colonial Pipeline’s operating at reduced capacity. Even after it’s fully open, which could be as early as Friday night, people will need to be patient as things return to normal.

Panic at the pump is fueling gas prices, already climbing as summer travel nears. Drivers like Kirby Whitfield are paying the price.

“It’s going to be burdensome on the pocket, that’s for sure,” said Whitfield.

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Although the Colonial Pipeline is back open, drivers could feel lasting effects, at least in the short term.

According to GasBuddy, an app that relies on reports from drivers, 50% of gas stations in Virginia are dealing with fuel outages.

Leroy Hicks saw there wasn’t a line at Go Mart on Williamson Road in Roanoke, so he filled up.

“I think it’s crazy. I just brought my truck here like 10 minutes ago and filled it up. And I’m going to fill my car up,” said Hicks.

In Virginia, the average price of gas is $2.91/gallon, up 4 cents overnight and 17 cents since last week, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic Spokesperson Dean Morgan.

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“Drivers got scared. They saw the long lines. They worried that is going to be longer than anybody might imagine and that made the problem worse,” said Morgan.

On Thursday afternoon, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and other state officials gave an update on the situation.

“The restart happened safely. It happened ahead of schedule and product reached Richmond faster than expected. But it is important to know that a full restart is not an instantaneous resumption of normal operations for the pipeline. A shutdown like this has not occurred where an entire system had to be restarted,” said Scott Marshall, the pipeline safety program manager for the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

To conserve gas and make the most of your mileage, Morgan said don’t top off your tank; wait until your tank is ¼ full to refuel and consolidate your errands.

Whitfield said he is only hitting the road when he has to.

“It’s a problem, but we just have to work through it. That’s all.”

The pipeline could resume full capacity Friday at 6 p.m., but it could take up to two weeks for the fuel to move up from the gulf coast.

There are still other pipelines in Virginia and stored fuel, so there’s no reason to panic.

VDOT also has fuel reserves for first responders and state police.

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You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!