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Gas Availability Improving In North Carolina, But Prices Climbing

 The BP on Person Street in downtown Raleigh was still without gas on the morning of Sunday, May 16, 2021.
The BP on Person Street in downtown Raleigh was still without gas on the morning of Sunday, May 16, 2021.

After a cyberattack that forced the Colonial Pipeline to stop moving gasoline more than a week ago, finding gas in North Carolina is starting to get a little easier.

According to the latest figures from GasBuddy as of 8:53 a.m. Monday morning, 57% of gas stations in the Tar Heel State are still without gas.

While that number seems like a lot, it’s an improvement from the 65% stations experiencing outages on Sunday. At one point last Thursday, more than 71% of gas stations in North Carolina were without fuel.

The operator of the nation’s largest gasoline pipeline that was hit with a ransomware cyberattack says it has resumed normal operations and is now delivering millions of gallons of fuel per hour. The Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline had begun the process of restarting the pipeline’s operations this past Wednesday evening.

The company warned it could take several days for the supply chain to return to normal. In a tweet Saturday, the company said since that time it has returned the system to normal operations and resumed service to its markets, including a large swath of the East Coast.

While the availability of gas in North Carolina is improving, prices are climbing, especially in the Triangle.

In Durham, prices have risen by an average of 13.2 cents in the past week, according to GasBuddy, which claims to be “the authoritative voice for gas prices and the only source for station-level data.” As of Monday morning, the average price per-gallon in Durham was $2.96, which is 31.4 cents higher than a month ago and $1.19 higher than a year ago. It’s the highest prices have been in Durham since 2014. In Raleigh, the average price-per-gallon on Monday was $2.94. Fayetteville’s average was $2.91 and Greensboro’s was $2.94.

With Colonial Pipeline back in service, Patrick De Haan – the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy – expects prices to improve, but says they could climb again with Memorial Day coming.

“The drops should lead the national average to soon fall back under the $3 per gallon mark, but motorists shouldn't get too excited – prices may start to head higher in a few weeks should Memorial Day gasoline demand be red hot,” De Haan said in a statement. “In addition, motorists in the affected areas should see outage numbers continue to decline this week, especially early in the week when gasoline demand tends to be lowest. I'm optimistic that there will be enough recovery by Memorial Day for motorists in these states to fill up without having to search for gasoline."

The Associated Press and WUNC’s Cole del Charco contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio

Mitchell Northam