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Gas prices could climb across the Southeast after a pipeline that transports nearly half of the regions' fuel had to be shut down because of a leak.
Colonial Pipeline Co. said Friday that its primary gasoline pipeline wouldn't be operational again for a week. The pipeline connects refineries in Texas and Louisiana with 13 states spanning from Georgia to New York, supplying the region with nearly 40 percent of its gasoline.
It's unclear when the line started leaking, but Colonial said in a statement that the leak was detected on Sept. 9, and about 6,000 to 8,000 barrels of gasoline had been lost.
The company said there are no threats to public safety because the leak has been contained, but warned that parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina gas markets would first be affected by the "disruption in supply."
Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with Gasbuddy.com, said prices at the pumps in those states could swell by 5 to 20 cents a gallon. "And it could be even worse," he said.
Experts assure that the price-hike will only be temporary. Jim Ritterbusch, who advises energy investors, said the surge in gasoline futures was exaggerated. A large surplus of gasoline in the central-Atlantic region should have cushioned the blow of the pipeline accident, he said.