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Pipeline shutdown could impact fuel supplies

Colonial Pipeline has shut down in gasoline pipeline that services this area due to issues from Hurricane Harvey. The last time this happened there were fuel supply issues locally. Lines are already forming at local gasoline retailers. Plan accordingly. Colonial Pipeline has shut down key fuel lines running from Houston through Mississippi, Georgia Alabama and up the East Coast after Hurricane Harvey forced the closure of refineries and other facilities. Colonial said its facilities west of Lake Charles, Louisiana are out of service due to the storms. That closure, along with hurricane-related shutdowns of refineries in the Gulf Coast, led to the decision to cease operations on Colonial’s Line 2, which transports primarily diesel and aviation fuels. Line 1, which carries gasoline, will suspend service today. Line 1 had been operating at a reduced capacity since Harvey hit. Line 1 provides nearly 40 percent of the South’s gasoline. ”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 a statement. By volume, Colonial is the largest pipeline operator in the country, delivering more than 100 million gallons of refined products each day to markets between Houston and New York City, serving more than 50 million people. Of the 26 refineries connected to the Colonial system, 13 are located between Houston and Lake Charles, the company said. The shutdowns are adding to growing concerns about fuel availability as drivers around the Southeast find themselves paying more at the pump. On Thursday morning, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $2.462, up almost 2 cents from yesterday and 11 cents from last week, according to fuel tracking site GasBuddy. Experts said prices could increase as much as 35 cents a gallon as refineries remain offline during storm cleanup. In its statement, Colonial addressed those concerns. ”Colonial is one part of the fuel delivery system, and there are multiple means of supplying the market to mitigate concerns with supply, including other pipelines, trucks, and barges,” it said. Georgia-based Colonial was twice forced to shut down parts of its pipeline last year due to a leak and a fire in Alabama. The shutdowns led to higher gas prices and isolated shortages across the Southeast. Hurricane Harvey made its first landfall in Texas last Friday, dumping more than 50 inches of rain on Houston and surrounding counties. The storm made a second landfall Wednesday in Louisiana and is now tracking to the northeast through Mississippi and northern Alabama.

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