Travel experts weigh in on impact of Colonial Pipeline attack, some businesses feeling pinch

Published: May. 13, 2021 at 11:37 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Colonial Pipeline says it is taking a step by step approach to restore operations by the end of the week after the company was crippled by a Cyberattack.

The company said it initiated the restart of pipeline operations late Wednesday, but it will take several days for deliveries to return to normal.

“That’s great news. We can stand a week’s worth of with the pipeline without too many issues at all,” said Clay Ingram, AAA.

The major U.S. pipeline delivers 45 percent of the supply of gasoline to the Southeast. AAA experts say if the fix takes longer than this week, Alabama is in a much better position than other states along the pipeline.

“Could start to see sporadic availability issues if we got into next week. Could,” said Ingram, “This thing would have to be down for weeks for us to be in a serious situation because they’re not the sole supplier of gasoline throughout the southeast.”

While AAA say drivers may not feel a significant and immediate impact from the cyber attack, some business owners say they are.

The CEO of mobile fleet fueling company Fuel Fox hoped the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack issues would be resolved by Monday.

“I was hoping that it would be resolved over the weekend and the impact would be minimal,” said Ben Morris CEO of Fuel Fox, “We’re already feeling the impact. In some markets we can get fuel and in other markets we cannot.”

Ben Morris operates throughout Alabama and in North Carolina. He says his current operations are relying on about a 5 day supply of inventory in storage tanks.

“The major refineries are trying to conserve as much inventory for their branded gas stations. If they’re Exxon, they’ll only sell to Exxon Gas. If they’re Shell, they’ll only sell to Shell. Wholesaler impacted the most right now,” said Morris.

Travel experts say prices had already gone up for summer travel starting before the attack and expect an increase of less than ten cents a gallon between now and Memorial day if the Colonial Pipeline issue is resolved by the end of the week.

One thing that could blow gas prices out the water is if you rush out now and try to fill up your car and hoard gas. AAA experts say that is one of the worst things we could do right now as they work to restore operations.

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