Gas prices up 50+ cents in Savannah due to Colonial Pipeline shu - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Gas prices up 50+ cents in Savannah due to Colonial Pipeline shutting down

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Drivers are feeling the pinch at the pump ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend. 

This comes after Colonial Pipeline, which shuttles fuel from Houston to the East Coast, shut down the Texas portion of that line because of Hurricane Harvey. Now, officials are having to get their supply elsewhere. 

Last week, officials in Savannah said drivers were paying about $2.06. Friday, we're seeing almost 50 cents more. They say this major jump has little to do with the holiday weekend and everything to do with Harvey. Unlike the pipeline explosion last November in Alabama, fuel experts say the industry was much more prepared this time for the shutdown. Suppliers had time to prepare and stock up, but drivers are still feeling the economic impact because of supply and demand. 

Right now, Parker's is having to get their supply from other suppliers around the Southeast. Parkers' Chief Operating Officer tells us the price at the pump could be much much worse because they are eating a lot of the cost upfront to try to keep prices low for customers. 

"From a supply perspective, we've jumped 70 cents, so as a net, we are absorbing about 30 cents, and from a retail perspective, we make about two percent profit margin on gas, so it's really next to nothing," said Jeff Bush, Parker's, Chief Operating Officer. 

"It went from being ok to way too much," said Carolann Lusk, driver.

Drivers in Chatham County are already feeling the impact.

"Basically overnight really - it wasn't even that high yesterday," said James Baerncopf, driver.

The pipeline stretches 5,500 miles - shuttling fuel from Houston to the east coast and the southeast is dependent on this line to fuel about 40 percent of its supply.

"We are actually having to pull it from different areas. We can't rely solely on the pipeline anymore so we are pulling from different areas so we have product here on the ground," said Bush.

An unexpected shutdown last year from an explosion in Alabama almost immediately created a gas shortage across the southeast. But this time suppliers were able to prepare ahead of the storm.

"We had no idea there was going to be any issues with the pipeline but with Harvey, we saw it coming," said Bush.

But what they don't know is how long they'll have to rely on that stock supply - it could eventually be a shortage depending on how long the pipeline is shut down. 

"There's definitely going to be that element that we need to be worried about it and we are paying attention to it," said Bush.

"It's one of those things you just have to wait and see how it plays out," said Baerncopf.

In the meantime, drivers are trying to be optimistic. Some are even opting out of gas for as long as possible.

"I'm going to wait until it gets on 'E' - maybe it will come down," said Lusk.

Colonial Pipeline says they could reopen the line as early as Sunday. Of course, that's the best case scenario. If so - there should be no threat of a shortage for our area. 

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