Gas prices expected to take roller coaster ride in coming weeks

A gas pump.
A gas pump. Photo credit Miguel Villagran/Getty Images
By , KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Since the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies nearly half of the east coast’s fuel, was shutdown on Friday because of a cyber attack, gas prices in the Delaware Valley and throughout the country have been on the rise.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are in the top ten when it comes to largest weekly gas price increases in the nation. Delaware is up $0.10, New Jersey is up $0.08 and Pennsylvania is up $0.07.

“They’ll probably go up again as the shutdown continues,” said Scott Jackson, Visiting Assistant Chemical Engineering Professor at Villanova University.

While that’s not the news drivers want to hear, the Colonial Pipeline has said it plans to be mostly operational again before the week is over.

If that happens, Jackson doesn’t expect these higher gas prices to last much longer.

“I suspect probably one or two weeks, that’s all,” he predicted.

“Because if (the pipeline) can come back really quickly, the markets will respond and I suspect there might be some price gouging by some of the local stations to make money, but the prices should come back down pretty quickly.”

He said it would probably take a shutdown lasting several weeks before we enter crisis mode.

“Because any inventory they have along the pipeline is no more than one or two weeks,” explained Jackson.

“Once they’ve gone past that inventory, then yea, there are some serious ramifications. Then things get very interesting for motorists.”

Jackson also pointed out there are inventory stations along the pipeline, which could help in this current situation.

“I suspect they had a fair amount of inventory,” he said, “simply because the pandemic caused a drop in demand and they were probably moving a lot of fluids into those, in part, because there was some anticipation of increase of driving through the summer.”

Jackson said people should not be hoarding gas. AAA is also urging against gasoline panic-buying.

As for the shutdown’s affect in the air, a Philadelphia International Airport spokesperson sent KYW Newsradio the following statement:

“The cyber threat that shut down the Colonial Pipeline network has not yet affected fuel supply and flow to PHL. An airline consortium at PHL receives fuel from the Colonial Pipeline and other vendors.

"At the time of the shut down, PHL’s fuel farm had a reserve supply on hand, and delivery from the Colonial Pipeline has since resumed. However, that supply will soon end, and PHL's fuel farm will rely on a combination of its reserves and other fuel vendors to maintain its supply. No impact has yet occurred to airlines’ access to fuel.”

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