Published: Fri, September 01, 2017
Money | By Oscar Reynolds

Colonial Pipeline to temporarily close gasoline transport pipeline

Colonial Pipeline to temporarily close gasoline transport pipeline

Critical fuel pipelines from the Texas coast could be up and pumping again by Sunday, Colonial Pipeline officials said on Thursday morning.

"Once Colonial is able to ensure that its facilities are safe to operate and refiners in Lake Charles and points east have the ability to move product to Colonial, our system will resume operations", the company said in its statement. On Thursday morning, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the US was $2.462, up nearly 2 cents from yesterday and 11 cents from last week, according to fuel tracking site GasBuddy. It supplies 75 percent of metro Atlanta's gasoline.

In September 2016, a leak and gas spill in Alabama that closed the Colonial Pipeline led to days of empty gas station pumps and higher prices in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas. Harvey's devastating strike on the Gulf Coast has prompted one of the summer's largest one-week price surges, AAA reported.

The company is instead directing gasoline deliveries to designated stores across all parts of the metro area, QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said.

"In Florida, we're not in the main season, so demand is not as high as it would be normally from November to May", said Ned Boman, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

Georgia-based Colonial was twice forced to shut down parts of its pipeline past year due to a leak and a fire in Alabama. Motiva Enterprises holds exclusive rights to distribute Shell fuels to the majority of the southeast, said Natalie Gunnell, a spokeswoman for Shell's USA products unit. Additionally, two East Coast refineries have already run out of gasoline.

"Imports can't make up for this. For the same reasons, we expect that Line 1, which transports gasoline and is now operating at reduced rates, will suspend service tomorrow (Thursday)", according to the press statement.

Half of the 26 refineries that supply Colonial's 5,500 miles of pipeline are located between Houston and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

On Wednesday, Colonial said its two pipelines would be shut down because of the damage done by Hurricane Harvey and the massive flooding that followed in Houston and the surrounding area.

Colonial Pipeline is based in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta.

"Given the unprecedented flooding in the city of Port Arthur, it remains uncertain how quickly the flood waters will recede, so we can not provide a timeline for restart at this time", the company said.

The average price of regular in Texas today is $2.25, up four cents from yesterday and 11 cents higher than before Harvey hit. "And then we'll have more clarity down the road".

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