Gas outages are spreading across the Southeast as motorists rush to fill up their cars days after the biggest U.S. fuel pipeline temporarily shut down following a cyberattack.
While industry experts try to reassure the public, saying hoarding or stockpiling gas will only exacerbate the issue, drivers appear to be panicking. Both the governors of North Carolina and Georgia issued states of emergency.
“We ran out. We were out of gas before it all started,” a manager of a Shell gas station in Robbinsville, N.C., told Yahoo Money, referring to Gov. Roy Cooper's (D-NC) executive order on Monday. “We got an email saying that it could be without gas [for] extended periods of time because of the pipeline shut down.”
The worst of it appears concentrated in Virginia where 7.6% of stations are out of gas; North Carolina where 7.5% of stations have run out; and Georgia where 5.2% of stations are reportedly empty as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
Gas demand across the U.S. jumped nearly 20% week over week on Monday, with a more than a 40% increase in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The national average hit $2.97 per gallon, matching the highest since 2018, GasBuddy found.
The volume of those desperate to fill up their tanks is also overwhelming GasBuddy, an app used to find gas. As of Tuesday morning, a company spokesperson announced it was powering down “non-vital services” to accommodate the “intense traffic.”
The scramble comes after the Colonial Pipeline halted delivery over the weekend after a ransomware hack by a DarkSide, a criminal network U.S. intelligence agencies believe to operate from Eastern Europe, possibly Russia. It has yet to announce when its mainline will be fully operational. The affected pipeline runs from Texas to New York and delivers about 45% of all fuel to the East Coast.
Photos and reports from the Southeast are flooding Twitter, showing long stretches of cars waiting for turns at the pump with some drivers bringing gas containers.
“We got dozens of phone calls” asking about gas, the Shell manager said. Another nearby gas station could not be reached for comment on Tuesday morning because the phone line remained busy.
“Other gas stations are crazy that did have gas but now they’re out of gas,” said the manager in Robbinsville, who couldn’t recall the last time there was a gas outage. “It's been a while."