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Gas shortfall created by panicked buyers could take days to recover

The Colonial Pipeline resumed operations Wednesday following days of being down in the wake of a ransomware cyber-attack, but experts state fuel supplies will take days to rebound.

Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA – The Auto Club Group stressed that Florida “remains well supplied” with gas; however, pockets of outages have been created by panicked buyers.

“While there is not considered to be a gasoline ‘shortage’ in Florida, there are reports of fuel outages at various gas stations, due to unusually strong demand,” said Jenkins. “… Motorists are seeing reports about supply issues in other states – due to the pipeline – and are racing out to top off their tanks. The problem is, that surge in demand is what actually creates the supply issue, since gas stations can only hold so much fuel at a given time.”

Jenkins went on to say that Florida is not heavily reliant on the Colonial Pipeline, explaining that ninety percent of Florida’s gasoline flows in through ports on cargo ships. That gasoline is then driven to the pumps on tanker trucks.

“This is not a refinery issue,” Jenkins said in a press release Tuesday. “Gasoline is still being made, and fuel continues sailing through Florida ports, regardless of whether Colonial Pipeline is operational.”

“Florida is said to have access to plenty of gasoline. It’s now just a matter of getting the fuel where it’s needed, primarily those gas stations that are being tapped out due to panic buying.”

Gasoline sales in the southeastern US were reportedly 2-3 times higher than normal this week. 

Governor Ron DeSantis declared a State of Emergency earlier in the week which allowed fuel trucks to transport a higher volume of gasoline and spend more time on the road making deliveries, and the EPA enacted a measure which allows the sale of both winter and summer blend gas.

Additional, the U.S. Department of Transportation passed a regional emergency declaration which provides regulatory relief in through a temporary hours of service exemption for tanker truck drivers who are transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petroleum products.

The exemption is something commonly seen after a hurricane or other natural disaster. In addition to Florida, the exemption applies to Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Jenkins asks that drivers do their part to help supplies rebound.

“We urge drivers to be calm and not make matters worse by hoarding,” Jenkins said. “Please continue with normal fueling patterns and take only what you need.”

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