Latest on the US gas demand spikes

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:25 AM ET, Wed May 12, 2021
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3:52 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Virginia governor declares state of emergency due to potential statewide gas shortages 

From CNN's Melissa Alonso and Matt Egan

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday issued a state of emergency declaration "to prepare and coordinate our response to the voluntary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline due to a cyber-attack," according to the declaration.

Northam said, "if prolonged, the pipeline closure will result in gasoline supply disruptions to various retailers throughout the Commonwealth, since the pipeline is the primary source of gasoline to many Virginia retailers."

According to the governor, "while current gasoline reserves in the Commonwealth are sufficient to address immediate supply concerns, a long-term disruption in the pipelines will require transportation of fuel and other oil-derivatives via interstate and state roadways."

The declaration directs all "state and local governments to render appropriate assistance to alleviate any conditions resulting from the situation."

As of 11 a.m. ET, 7.6% of the gas stations in Virginia don’t have fuel, according to outage figures reported by GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand.

See the governor's tweet:

1:55 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

What the scene is like at two local North Carolina gas stations

From CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji

Patsy Dowell, a Maryland resident, told CNN he drove to North Carolina to see his mom for Mother’s Day.

This morning, he went to the Speedway gas station on Highway 321 in Boone, North Carolina, to fill up his tank and planned to head back to Baltimore tomorrow.

Even though he was able to get a full tank after a 30-minute wait, he said after seeing the situation at the gas station he decided to stay back in North Carolina with his parents for a few extra days.

“My drive back home to Baltimore is about 8 hours, Dowell said. “I’m lucky I can stay here a few extra days. I hope it’s not like this everywhere. Lots of stations with bags over pump handles and ones with gas have long lines.”

“The price was $2.89 which is about 10 cents more than Friday,” Dowell said. “Every pump had a car waiting and line was probably about 75 cars lined up in street.”

See the photo:

In Asheville, North Carolina, Sarah Colley told CNN that in a photo she took you can see a gas station in the background but the cars you see in line are actually queuing up for another gas station not too far off.

“The line was pretty dang long and we saw that at every gas station yesterday,” she said. “But now every gas station is out of gas completely.”

The price signs are off and there are signs on the pumps saying "out of fuel" and covers over all the handles, according to Colley.

Colley said she wasn’t able to fill up her gas tank but luckily she works from home. Prices were around $2.67- $2.77 yesterday in her area, she said.

“My boyfriend is a chef and he usually takes others home at night but he told his boss he can't because he doesn't have enough gas for the week,” she said.

See the photo:

12:50 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

DHS cyber agency still awaiting for technical information from pipeline ransomware attack

From CNN's Geneva Sands and Ellie Kaufman 

Fuel tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline Baltimore Delivery in Baltimore, Maryland on May 10.
Fuel tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline Baltimore Delivery in Baltimore, Maryland on May 10. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security is still awaiting additional technical information from the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack so its cybersecurity agency can help other critical infrastructure partners protect their own systems, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency acting Director Brandon Wales said Tuesday. 

Colonial Pipeline, which was hit by a ransomware attack last week prompting a halt in operations, did not contact CISA in the wake of the cyberattack, Wales added. 

“I think right now we are waiting for additional technical information on exactly what happened at Colonial so we can use that information to potentially protect other potential victims down the road,” Wales said. 

Wales said it’s “not surprising” that they haven’t yet received information, since its early in the investigation, adding that CISA has historically had a “good relationship” with both Colonial, as well as the cybersecurity firms that are working on their behalf. 

“We do expect information to come from that and when we have it we will use it to improve cybersecurity more broadly,” he said.  

“They did not contact CISA directly,” he said. “We were brought in by the FBI after they were notified about the incident.”

However, Wales said the agency received information “fairly quickly in concert with the FBI,” when pressed by Senate Homeland Security Ranking Member Rob Portman on whether it would have been helpful if Colonial reached out “immediately.”

Yet, Wales acknowledged that he did not believe Colonial would have connected them without the FBI involvement. 

12:20 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Rising number of gas stations are running out of fuel

From CNN's Matt Egan 

A growing number of gas stations along the East Coast are without fuel as demand surges and the Colonial Pipeline shutdown stretches into a fifth day.

As of 11 a.m. ET, 7.6% of the gas stations in Virginia and 5.8% in North Carolina don’t have fuel, according to outage figures reported by GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand.

Outages are also being reported at gas stations in Georgia (4%), Florida (2.5%) and South Carolina (1.9%), according to GasBuddy, which collects user reports and shares the information with the government during emergencies.

“Panicked buying” is “running stations in the region dry,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN Business.

He warned that the “irrational behavior” could prolong supply issues “for weeks.”

GasBuddy lists smaller outages, impacting less than 1% of the gas stations, in Alabama and Tennessee.

"I got scared that I could not go to work or take my daughters to school," Florida resident Linderly Bedoya told CNN on Tuesday. "All the gas stations in my area were without gas and when I finally found one I had to stay an hour in line and I had to fill up with the premium unleaded."


12:22 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Here is why gasoline prices are spiking around the US

From CNN's Alexis Benveniste and Charles Riley

Gas stations display the price of gasoline in Leonia, New Jersey, on Monday, May 10.
Gas stations display the price of gasoline in Leonia, New Jersey, on Monday, May 10. Seth Wenig/AP

A cyberattack forced one of the largest US fuel pipelines to shut down Friday, and analysts are worried the disruption could result in a spike in gas prices.

If you're just reading in now, here's how we got here:

  • What is Colonial Pipeline: The Colonial Pipeline system spans more than 5,500 miles and transports about 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast. It transports 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil.
  • What happened: Colonial Pipeline Company said it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack that involved ransomware. In an update on Sunday, the company said that its four mainlines remain offline, but some smaller lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational. "We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations," it added in a statement.
  • What does this mean for prices at the pump: The shutdown could extend a recent jump in gasoline prices — especially if the outage persists — piling on the pain for drivers as the seasonal peak in demand approaches. "The number of days that the line is out of service is critical," Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service, which tracks gas prices at 140,000 US stations, told CNN Business. Limited supply could mean higher fuel prices for motorists during the spring driving season.
  • Where gas prices are now: US gasoline futures for May delivery gained 1.5% on Monday, rising to $2.16 a gallon. Prices had spiked as much as 4% in early trading. The national average pump price of regular gas stands at $2.97 a gallon, according to AAA, up more than 60% from a year ago when prices and demand were bottoming out. The national average could surpass $3 a gallon this summer, and go even higher if hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast or if there are additional supply outages. US gasoline demand jumped 20% on Monday compared with the prior week, according to GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand. The national price at the pump hit $2.985 on Tuesday, the highest level in nearly six years, according to AAA.

CNN's Matt Egan contributed reporting to this post.

12:09 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

AAA offers these tips to get the most out of your gas gallons

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Cars make their way down the aging 110 freeway toward downtown L.A. during the morning commute on April 22 in Los Angeles.
Cars make their way down the aging 110 freeway toward downtown L.A. during the morning commute on April 22 in Los Angeles. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Although the American Automobile Association (AAA) is forecasting gas prices to climb, they are warning Americans to not panic-buy gasoline.

They offer the following tips to help Americans get the most out of their gas gallons:

  • Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible avoid high-traffic times of day.
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey.
  • Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than for larger models.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
  • In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunscreen to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning (and thus fuel) to cool down the car.

12:01 p.m. ET, May 11, 2021

South Carolina expects "only sporadic delays" in fuel shipments to gas stations, coordinating agency says

From CNN's Joe Sutton

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) tells CNN that so far there are "no reports of widespread outages" and they are "only expecting sporadic delays" in fuel shipments to gas stations in the state.

"We are seeing some posts on Twitter about people trying to stock up on fuel, but so far, no reports of widespread outages and at this point we’re only expecting sporadic delays in fuel shipments to gas stations. We have enough supply if people get fuel as they normally would," Derrec Becker, SCEMD's chief of public information & external affairs, told CNN.

The spokesperson for the agency said that although it is slower than accessing the Colonial pipeline, the state has a backup fuel supply chain through the Charleston port that is available to gas stations and local shops.

"We have enough supply if people get fuel as they normally would," Becker said. "We have a backup fuel supply chain through the Charleston port. It’s a little slower than accessing the Colonial line, particularly in the Upstate, but our Office of Regulatory Staff says the gas station chains and local shops are already accessing their contracts."

11:50 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Gas station in Rocky Point, North Carolina runs dry by 10:30 a.m. ET

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Lydia Hall sat in line today at a gas station in Rocky Point, North Carolina, for about an hour.

"All the gas stations have lines here out the parking lots," she told CNN. "All of the gas stations are showing 'out of order' on their pumps."

Just after she filled her mostly empty tank, at around 10:30 a.m. ET, the Shell station ran out of gas, according to a representative that answered the phone there.

The representative did not know when they would get their next shipment of gas.

11:40 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

EPA issues a fuel waiver for states affected by pipeline shut down

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing an emergency fuel waiver "to help alleviate fuel shortages" in states whose gas supply has been impacted by the pipeline shut down following the recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a news release today.

"EPA has waived the federal Reid vapor pressure requirements for fuel sold in Reformulated Gasoline areas of District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to facilitate the supply of gasoline," the release said.

The waiver will continue through May 18, the release said.