Gas prices surge: SC energy staff urge drivers not to panic in wake of pipeline closure

Gas prices surge: SC energy staff urge drivers not to panic in wake of pipeline closure

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A portion of South Carolina's main gas supply is shut down.

A part of the Colonial Pipeline is closed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey; from Lake Charles, LA, to Houston, TX, the fuel supply line too much of the South is halted.

It means gas prices are rising. South Carolina drivers are noticing the damage to their wallets. But the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) is urging drivers not the rush to the pumps.

Tom Allen, with the ORS, says South Carolina's gas supply is doing just fine. He says the Colonial Pipeline from Lake Charles, LA, eastward, is open.

"There will be a little bit of a reduced capacity. But there is product still flowing through the line and deliveries still will be made," Allen says.

He says the ORS has requested waivers for South Carolina to be able to secure even more fuel in other ways, if necessary. He says the state is fortunate that gas can also be shipped from the port out of Charleston, inland, too.

But still, gas prices are up. By about midday on Thursday, there was a noticeable increase of some 20 to 30 cents-per-gallon in the Midlands. Drivers expressed concern supply and demand could continue to drive up these prices. To that, Allen says it's possible, but less likely if folks don't swarm the pumps.

"It's gone quite a bit, about 30 cents regularly," Columbia driver Jonathan Daniels said.

"Yeah, I have seen it go up, especially in the last 24 to 48 hours," Columbia driver Sean Bloos said.

"I think it's going to get worse before it gets much better, I really do," visitor Libby Godwin said.

"There may be some sporadic outages in some places, but we do know that through information that we've gotten through the Department of Energy and the information administration, that stocks in petroleum are above average," Allen says.

Allen says the real trouble with supply could come if refineries go without electricity for much longer at the same time this portion of the pipeline is closed.

He believes the pipeline could reopen by Sunday, but says he should at least know more details on the damage by then.

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