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It will take several days for the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel supply chain to fully normalize, even after the restart of full operation of a critical pipeline that was shut down this month.
Colonial Pipeline said Thursday evening that it had returned to service its entire pipeline network, noting that “product delivery has started to all the markets we serve.”
The company had to shut down its pipelines after suffering a cyberattack earlier this month, sparking a wave of panic buying that emptied many gas stations in the southeast of the country.
“The station pumps will be full of fuel in several days,” AAA spokeswoman Jeanette McGee said Thursday. “It’s a particularly good update ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.”
Regions that have experienced price spikes due to the pipeline outage will soon see relief, McGee added.
Meanwhile, refineries are still producing gasoline, which continues to flow into pipelines and ports.
“We have a plentiful supply of fuel in the United States,” said Susan Grissom, chief industry analyst for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers business group on Thursday.
The trucking industry is struggling to move gasoline from terminals to stations, aided by the relaxation of state and federal regulations governing the transportation of fuel despite the shortage of truckers.
The biggest question mark is whether the wave of panic buying that has been triggered by the shutdown will subside long enough to allow gas stations to actually fill their tanks and stay filled.
This week, some stations sold several days of fuel within hours, making it difficult for smaller stations to avoid shortages even if they have regular replenishments.
There are positive signs that the panic may be easing: the Gasbuddy app has reported a lower demand for gasoline Thursday week to week.