By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on May 13, 2021
Even with Colonial Pipeline operations restarted, several experts say that motorists in the area and state will have a wait before the situation at the pumps returns to normal.
In a twitter post on the morning of May 13, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, unveiled a “headache” metric – signifying how long it will be “a headache if you need fuel.” He predicted 7-14 days of “headaches” for motorists in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina.
“The situation will definitely take time and slowly improve due to a high number of outages and higher number of stations to refuel,” he said. As of noon on May 13, De Hann also reported that 68% of North Carolina’s gas stations were without fuel, a tiny improvement over the day before.
In an interview with the Voice, Michael Harrell, owner of the Jernigan Oil Company, which hauls fuel to 350 locations including Eastern North Carolina, described the current supply situation simply as “not good.”
“It’s going to take time, I would say ‘weeks’ [before] all stations have all grades of gas all of the time,” Harrell stated. “It will get better. It’s just gonna take time.”
Almost all the gas for the Outer Banks, Harrell said, comes out of Chesapeake “and pretty much all of these terminals are empty…The trucks are taking it out faster than the pipeline can put it in.” He added that “basically we don’t have enough trucks or drivers to get [gas stations] resupplied in a timely fashion.”
Harrell also offered some advice as to how drivers could do their part to ease the situation. Unless their vehicles are low on gas, he said, “They don’t need to keep buying and buying.”
In a related matter, at the May 11 Dare County Board of Education meeting, Schools Superintendent John Farrelly explained that the Dear County School District has three weeks’ worth of school bus fuel on reserve.
If the gas shortage continued and it was necessary, the superintendent noted that Dare County Transportation Director Alex Chandler had said that athletic buses could be discontinued to get students to their classrooms through the remainder of the school year.