Panic buying, gas shortages and price hikes amid pipeline cyberattack

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — The Colonial Pipeline is still offline following a cyberattack, which is fueling price hikes and panic buying of gas.  In some parts of the stage, stations are reporting gas shortages.

Long lines greeted Southeastern gas stations in the early morning, with some employees telling ABC News the demand caused several pumps to run out of fuel.

Ashish Desai, an employee at BP station in Charlotte, North Carolina, said there was a line of cars at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and the panic buying caused several pumps to shut down at 2 p.m. — with all pump shuttering a few hours later.

Desai said the pumps will remain closed until the station receives a delivery, telling ABC, “It could be tomorrow; it could be next week. I don’t know.”

In North Carolina, about 10 percent of gas stations reported they were out of fuel.  Emergency declarations were declared in the state and in Georgia, as well.

Georgia says six percent of its gas stations are out of fuel — that number rising to 20 percent in the Atlanta metro area.

The pipeline delivers more than 70 percent of gas used for transportation to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia — meaning the southeastern part of the nation is suffering the worst impact of the shutdown.

AAA says gas prices rose by eight cents this week, with the national average resting at  $2.98 a gallon of regular gas.  The last time the national average was this high was in November 2014, says the association.

The Colonial Pipeline’s chief executive says the company will have a clearer idea of whether or not to restart the pipeline by the close of business on Wednesday.  However, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm cautioned Tuesday, “It will take a few days to ramp up operations.” 

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