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Colonial Pipeline working on distribution of gas

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A break in a gasoline pipeline in Alabama is causing some issues in the Carolinas. The pipeline, operated by Colonial Pipeline, based in Alpharetta, Ga., responded to a report of a break in the line near Helena, Ala. on Sept. 9.

The line supplies gasoline to the southeast, including North Carolina and South Carolina. According to WSPA-TV, the break in the line has caused some gasoline shortages across the region, including western North Carolina and the Upstate. Grocery store chain Ingles reported the leak – which the company reported to have been of between 252,000 and 336,000 gallons of gasoline according to AL.com – has “seriously affected the availability of fuel supplies to supply Ingles fuel centers as well as other gas stations throughout our region.”

According to Colonial, they began constructing a bypass around the segment of its main line on Sunday and have started delivering gasoline from Gulf Coast refiners to terminals located in impacted areas such as Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

“We continue to be in regular communication with our customers, who are also working on their own individual contingency plans to minimize supply disruptions,” the company said in its daily update Monday. “This includes trucking and barging fuel from other markets and refineries.”

Regionally, Colonial said it has delivered, or is in the process of, delivering product to terminals in Belton and Spartanburg as well as terminals in Greensboro and Charlotte in North Carolina.

The company had two lines running from Houston, Texas to New Jersey. The break impacts its Line 1 and Colonial said it has shifted additional capacity to its Line 2. Line 1 transports nearly 2.6 million gallons of product each day, according to Colonial. The shift to the second line has “allowed all origins and delivery markets to be served along the entire system, albeit in a reduced capacity,” Colonial said.

The leak has pushed gas prices over $2 per gallon in the Greenville market for the first time in over three months, according to GasBuddy.com, a gasoline pump price-checking website. It is the highest prices have been since reaching nearly $2 per gallon in June.

Gregg Lazkowski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said the jump in gas prices across the state is not surprising considering the volume moved in the pipeline. He said prices across South Carolina have jumped an average of 14 cents a gallon in the last week.

“I think we could see prices climb incrementally, especially through this week,” Lazkowski said. “Until we hear from Colonial on when they expect the pipeline to be fully operational and reaching back to the capacities it had before the spill, it would be highly speculative.”

He said things may not flatten out for another week or so, but he added that Colonial was “making all the efforts that logic dictates.”

In terms of continuing to supply the East Coast while the cleanup and repair continue, Lazkowski said there are alternatives to bring refined gasoline to parts of the region.

“The good news for the Carolinas is because you have access to the coast, there is access to alternatives to fuel that is not based in a pipeline, but Tennessee is not that fortunate,” Lazkowski said. “There are some other potential options to alleviate the needs, but none of it comes together quickly.”

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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