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Gas prices at most expensivein six years following Colonial Pipeline shutdown

As of Monday, May 17, the average price for gas across the nation is the highest it has been in six years at $3.04 per gallon for unleaded. Georgia’s average on Monday was $2.96 while Emanuel’s average hovered at $2.93. Gas prices were expected to flirt with $3 per gallon leading up to Memorial Day weekend two weeks from now, but last week’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline caused prices to spike ahead of the holiday.

The Colonial Pipeline delivers approximately 45 percent of all fuel to the East Coast. On Saturday, May 8, Colonial announced it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack through the means of ransomware and, as a precaution, shut down the pipeline, which runs refined gas and jet fuel from Texas to New York Harbor. (Foreign gasoline imports and other pipelines supplemented northeastern supply, and other areas of the country saw little impact.)

As a result, Georgia, along with other states in the southeast like North Carolina and South Carolina where the gasoline supply was strained due to the shutdown, saw prices shoot up as much as 21 cents in matter of days. Late on Wednesday, May 12, Colonial announced the restart of pipeline operations.

With the pipeline back in operation and supply being restored, gas prices in these states and the national average have stabilized since the end of last week.

The southeast is expected to continue experiencing tight supply this week as terminals and gas stations are refueled, according to Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson. Over the weekend, gas prices started to stabilize but are expected to keep fluctuating in the lead up to Memorial Day.

On that note, AAA forecasts 34 million Americans to take a road trip 50 miles or more from home from May 27 to May 31 to celebrate the unofficial kickoff to summer. That is a 52 percent increase compared to last summer, but nearly 9 percent below pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Regardless, motorists will be met with the most expensive gas prices since 2014.

“This is going to be an expensive summer for motorists. However, we do not expect it to deter travelers from hitting the road. AAA finds that despite the higher pump prices, Americans still take their road trips but just may not travel as far as originally planned or go to their planned destination and spend a little less,” added McGee.

Crude oil prices and gasoline demand will be two large factors in determining how expensive gas prices will go.

If you are planning to travel this weekend or next as gas prices fluctuate, here are some tips:

• If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model.

• Plan ahead. Bring groceries and other necessities with you to reduce making trips while you’re at your destination.

• Fill up before getting to your destination. Use the AAA Mobile app to locate gas stations and call ahead to see if they have fuel.

• Avoid driving during high-traffic times of day.

• Pack lightly. Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car, and don’t use your roof rack or a special cargo carrier. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than larger models.

• Don’t travel with a container carrying extra fuel in your car.

Quick stats

The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases: Georgia (+21 cents), North Carolina (+21 cents), South Carolina (+21 cents), Virginia (+18 cents), Tennessee (+18 cents), Alabama (+17 cents), Maryland (+16 cents), Mississippi (+12 cents), West Virginia (+10 cents) and Texas (+10 cents).

The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($2.72), Louisiana ($2.72), Texas ($2.76), Missouri ($2.76), Arkansas ($2.76), Oklahoma ($2.78), North Dakota ($2.83), Minnesota ($2.83), Kansas ($2.84) and Alabama ($2.85).

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