Pipeline Spill Causing Gas Shortages and Price Gouging Complaints
Gas prices went up an average of 11 cents over the past week, following a massive leak in a gas pipeline that’s a major supplier to the Southeast. Some local stations are running out of fuel and the attorney general’s office has received hundreds of price gouging complaints.
The affected Colonial Pipeline runs from Houston to New Jersey. The leak was spotted in Alabama Sept 9. AAA says average gas prices in North Carolina jumped from $2.05 to $2.16 within the last week. Some stations are posting much higher prices, and Kevin Anderson, the state Department of Justice’s consumer protection director says the agency has received more than 500 complaints of price gouging.
“We’ve seen some in the $4, $5 and $6 range that raised some concern,” Anderson said. “There was a $9.99 a gallon posted and we were told by the station that they never charged that price but posted it when they ran out of gas and later took it down.”
Anderson says stations found guilty of price gouging could face fines of $5,000.
Stations are running out of gas. At a Shell station on Carmel Road they had no gas on Sunday. Today the station received 50 percent of its normal allocation. A Quik Trip station manager on Wilkinson Boulevard says they have no gas.
Quik Trip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh says they are looking for alternative fuel supplies while the pipeline is being repaired.
“We’re trying to secure product through barges, from other markets, provided it’s legal to do so and if we can, trying to see if railroad cars out there have gasoline,” Thornbrugh said.
He says their strategy also includes cutting off fuel supplies to many stations to make sure at least one or two in each market they serve has a constant gas supply. In Charlotte, four Quik Trips have gas, but two of them have no premium fuel.