TOLEDO, Ohio — Ohio is experiencing an increase in prices at the pump this week, and that's before any possible pain of the cyberattack on the Colonial gas pipeline spreads here.
The 5,500-mile Colonial pipeline delivers about 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast and a cyberattack by Russian cybercriminal group DarkSide prompted the shutdown of the line on Friday, the FBI said.
While the Colonial gas pipeline itself does not directly serve Ohio, consumers are wondering if price increases may be seen here even if the gasoline shortage currently affecting southern states doesn't reach Ohio pumps.
On Tuesday, gasoline shortages were reported in North and South Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Georgia. Georgia's governor even signed an executive order temporarily suspending state taxes on fuel in response to rising prices, CBS News said.
Toledo's gas prices have risen 11.6 cents over the last week and overall, Ohio's price at the pump was up 7 cents, according to gas price analyst group Gas Buddy.
"While average gas prices jumped last week as the nation continues to see COVID-19 recovery, all eyes are now on the Colonial Pipeline and the fact a cyberattack has completely shut all lines, leading to what could become a major challenge for fuel delivery," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
"The situation is growing more intense each day that passes without the pipeline restarting, and motorists are advised to show extreme restraint or exacerbate and prolong the challenges. If the pipeline returns to service in the next day or two, the challenges will be minimal, but if full restart doesn't happen by then, we're likely to see a slight rise in gas prices, but more importantly, challenges for motorists needing fuel in Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Virginia, Northern Florida and surrounding areas."
However, the effects from the Colonial pipeline hack should be minimal in Ohio, De Haan told WKYC, WTOL 11's sister station in Cleveland.
"That's because Colonial Pipeline does not serve the area. Refineries throughout the Midwest are still churning out gasoline," he said.
The actual culprit is simple supply and demand. Production was reduced during the pandemic and as things open back up, demand is outpacing what is available.
According to WTOL 11's sister station WCNC in Charlotte, it's important to note that there’s no imminent shortfall, and thus no need to panic buy gasoline, Richard Joswick, head of global oil analytics at S&P Global Platts, said. If the pipeline is restored by Friday, there won’t be much of an issue.
You can keep an eye on the availability of fuel at gas pumps in the area with this Gas Buddy tracker.