CLOSE

A cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline may lead to a fuel shortage in parts of the Southeast. Find out why gas prices may be on the rise.

USA TODAY

Gov. Phil Murphy assured the public that the recent Colonial Pipeline shutdown has still not affected gas prices, nor has it caused a shortage in New Jersey, though southern states are beginning to see dry pumps, he said.

“We don’t – knock on wood – have a supply issue as we speak,” he told reporters during his COVID-19 press briefing on Wednesday.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the state rose a few cents since the beginning of the week, now costing $3.04, said Shani Jarvis, a spokesperson for AAA New Jersey. Nationwide, the price has risen about the same amount to $3.00.

Over the weekend, Colonial, which supplies the gulf and Atlantic coasts with 45% of their fuel, was forced to close its pipeline over the weekend due to a ransomware attack.

That pipeline stretches 5,500 miles from Houston, Texas, to Linden, New Jersey, and normally delivers 100 million gallons of fuel daily, according to the company’s website.

On Wednesday, The New York Times first reported the company had reopened the line. But Colonial cautioned it will take “several days” for supplies to rebound to normal.

“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period,” the company stated on its website.

Effects have been noticeable in the southeast, where Murphy said he’s received anecdotal information of supply shortages in Virginia and North Carolina, “where this is real.”

As for New Jersey, Murphy said, “It’s not clear there is a direct impact with gas issues for either your car or […] jet fuel at Newark Liberty [International Airport.]”

He added that his administration has conferred with federal contacts on the matter, but was not specific regarding the agencies nor the content of the conversations.

AAA, which monitors fuel prices regularly, agrees with the governor that the Colonial Pipeline is not a driving factor in price increases – yet.

“I think we’re still seeing the same residual price increases we’ve seen for the past four-to-six weeks,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesperson with AAA Northeast. “Another couple three or four days and we could start seeing price hikes resulting from the shutdown.”

Rising vaccination numbers and an oncoming Memorial Day weekend, when AAA expects 90% of vacationers to drive to their destination, has encouraged investors to purchase crude oil futures, Sinclair said. 

So far, that’s been the likely culprit of runaway prices.

Murphy was asked whether he was considering fuel rationing.

The governor did not directly tackle that question, but reminded residents of the panic buying that exacerbated troubles in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey, and urged drivers not to repeat the error by overstocking gasoline.

“There is some amount of human nature and behavior” affecting supplies in other states, he said.

Nicholas Katzban is a breaking news reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

Email: katzban@northjersey.com 

Twitter: @nicholaskatzban 

Read or Share this story: https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/transportation/2021/05/12/gov-murphy-update-today-nj-gas-shortage-2021/5061617001/