North Carolinians could see the state’s fuel situation return to normal in the next few days. Governor Pat McCrory announced Tuesday the Colonial Pipeline bypass construction is complete.
For people living in Eastern North Carolina, that’s good news. For the most part, they will avoid the gas shortages seen in the western part of the state and do not have to rush out and fill their gas tanks, according to the governor. Though he is asking for residents and government agencies to conserve in the days ahead.
Colonial Pipeline officials announced Tuesday morning that the construction and positioning of the bypass line in Alabama is now complete and engineers are working on testing the pipeline for a restart on Wednesday, McCrory said. The news comes more than a week after Colonial officials announced a leak was found in the fuel supply line in Helena, Alabama. Colonial Pipeline officials found the leak on Sept. 9 and since, have estimated about 252,000 gallons of fuel was spilled from the leak.
As a result of the pipeline leak in Alabama, McCrory said North Carolina is currently receiving about a third of its normal fuel supply. The western portion of the state has been the hardest hit, he said.
“On the eastern part of the state, if people start rushing to fill their tank they are doing it for no reason at all because they’re really getting the fuel they need at this point in time,” McCrory said. “The main disruption of the third is in the western.”
McCrory issued a state of emergency on Thursday, Sept. 15, that temporarily waived hours of service restrictions on fuel trucks. That, along with an additional executive order waving additional restrictions, was meant to help fuel trucks move the supply quickly into the state, according to McCrory.
Meanwhile, he has asked for government entities to implement fuel conservation plans and to limit unnecessary travel for state employees.
“We’re also encouraging motorists … to reduce their fuel when possible. And resist the temptation to run to the gas station to top off their tanks,” McCrory said. “That causes more problems than anything especially during the next 24 hours.”
McCrory said that he hopes some of those temptations will go down as the consumer gets the news that the pipeline is fixed. “We’re sometimes our own worse enemy when responding to a crisis like this,” McCrory said.
The governor is also keeping his executive order in place that protects consumers from price gouging at the pumps. McCrory said as the fuel supply returns to normal over the next two to three days, consumers should see gas prices go down.
According to AAA North Carolina, the average price of regular gas in Wilmington on Tuesday was at $2.184 a gallon, up from an average price of $2.036 a week ago.
McCrory said he is also calling on the EPA to temporarily waive vapor collection regulations during the transfer of fuel at our ports to help more efficiently fill taker ships and trucks.
“This is a problem right now. And we’ve got a long line of tanker trucks at our ports at this point in time because of the very stringent vapor regulations, which we would like a waiver to temporary stop that so we can get these trucks to the market place as quick as possible,” McCrory said.
On Monday, the city of Wilmington announced that due to fuel shortages, a large volume of fuel trucks were on Front Street, south of Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. The city’s police department also notified the public the southbound lane on Front Street was closed from Castle Street to Greenfield Street for tankers, but the roadway reopened Monday afternoon.
“The good news is fuel continues to flow into the state but at a much reduced rate,” McCrory said. “It will still take a few days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal.”