Gas prices up after pipeline explosion

Metro area gas stations experiencing outages

ATLANTA — Drivers stopping to fill up Wednesday may notice higher prices.

It could be Saturday before crews restart a pipeline that brings gas to metro Atlanta and up the east coast.

Governor Nathan Deal cleared the way for trucks to bring an interrupted supply to our area, after Monday's deadly pipeline explosion.

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Overnight, AAA posted new average gas prices for the metro area. Drivers will pay about $2.24 for a gallon.

That's a five-cent increase compared to $2.19 on Tuesday.

While some drivers are filling up or topping off their tanks, experts say that could make things worse.

"I can't tell you the last time I filled up my tank when I wasn't on empty. Topping it off so I don't run out of gas,” said one driver.

That kind of topping off complicates efforts to keep the gas flowing to local stations.

“So there's no need to go out and rush. That will put additional strain on the system which most likely experiencing some strain at least for the short term,” said AAA spokesperson Garrett Townsend.

Townsend said this is a sweet spot on the calendar between summer and the holidays when fuel supplies are strong.

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But experts are worried because the explosion knocked out two lines.

“Only one line was shut down this time. It’s both lines shut down so we're really in unprecedented territory as far as of how much it will effect gas prices,” Townsend said. “We know there will be an impact at least to metro Atlanta.”

“Once it gets to 20 cents, 30 cents, that's when it really hits the budget pretty bad,” said driver Adam Christiansen.

Channel 2's Liz Artz spoke to a spokesperson from QT who said the company is constantly evaluating supply and after dealing with spotty shortages in September, that's what local drivers are doing too.

“I hope we're not that affected by it,” said driver Charlie Weaver. “I almost ran out of gas. I had to have my wife pick me up, so I don't want to do that again.”

Timeline of repairs will affect gas prices

Local gasoline experts told Channel 2's Jim Strickland that if the pipeline is fixed soon, the impact will not be as bad as some people have predicted.

Mansfield Oil in Hall County sells more than 3 billion gallons of gas a year across the nation. Leaders said we might see some outages and a spike in gas prices.

But a repair to the pipeline in five days would mean less of a disruption than we saw in September.

Crews beginning to make repairs to the pipeline

Channel 2's Aaron Diamant is in Alabama as crews work to make repairs and have the pipelines back up and running.

There has been a lot of heavy machinery in Shelby County, Alabama Wednesday with repair crews making their way down a gravel road to the site.

The explosion killed one worker and injured five others. Colonial confirmed the veteran contract crew hit the line while excavating it, routine work while making final repairs to the line following a rupture in September. But it's still unclear why it ignited.

"This contractor has done this many, many times before, so exactly what happened, how it happened, whether there were steps that were missed, these are all things that we're going to be investigating over the course of the next days and weeks. We will learn from this, and we will apply corrective actions as appropriate to make sure this never happens again,” said Bill Berry, from Colonial Pipeline.

The victim was identified as 48-year-old Anthony Lee Willingham.

In the meantime, the fire has now burned itself out but there is no good timetable for how long the company and federal investigations will take and how long it will take for repairs to get done.

The company said the gas line will be down until at least Saturday and are rolling out contingency plans.

The governor of Alabama and Georgia’s governor have declared states of emergency, which ease restrictions of trucks carrying fuel.