How could pipeline shutdown impact gas supply, pricing in Georgia?

ATLANTA — Fulton County officials said a cyber attack that shut down a local gas pipeline could cause some disruption to metro Atlanta’s gas supply.

Colonial Pipeline in Alpharetta was the victim of a ransomware attack, the company reported late Friday.

The company has temporarily halted all pipeline operations while they investigate.

The Atlanta-Fulton EMA said Saturday that major gas shortages are not anticipated at this time, but offered tips to ensure you have enough fuel.

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Angela Holland, the President of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, said there should be enough fuel in Georgia as Colonial Pipeline works through the issue.

“On a general basis, there is a 21-day supply in the Georgia storage facilities,” Holland said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News. “The last disruption period we experienced was in 2016. We had four issues arise within eight weeks, and while we had spotty outages, we did not experience a shortage of fuel for Georgia drivers. Given the reduced number of commuters to and from workplaces, there should be an ample amount of supply to keep Georgia fueled as Colonial works through the issue.”

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden talked to Tom Kloza, the chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. He said the Colonial Pipeline is the most important pipeline in North America and transports 45% of the East Coast’s fuel supply.

Still, Kloza said it is not time to panic and that there is still time before this impacts our wallets.

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“I would say that if we go longer than five days, in that five to 10-day category, we’ll have some disruptions,” Kloza said. “The problem is you’ll have station operators and distributors loading up because they fear price increases.”

Kloza said that could cause some gas stations to run out of fuel, which could prompt a similar response from consumers like the toilet paper shortage last year.

“Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Kloza said. “I think if people remain calm, then I think everything will be alright.”

Kloza said if the pipeline is down for that long, it could be an East Coast Gulf Coast crisis.

Kloza said he thinks Georgia and Tennessee could see the biggest shortages in the southeast.

“Unfortunately, the southeast thanks to spring break and more open cities than the rest of the country is a little bit tighter on supply than the rest of the country,” Kloza said.

Fulton County officials advised drivers to avoid refueling unless you need to and fill the tank to 50% of what you normally would.

Drivers are also advised to complete multiple errands on one trip, minimize the use of air conditioning, remove bulk items from your car and use the most fuel-efficient vehicle you own.

Officials are also asking people to use public transportation.

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