AUSTIN, Texas - The Colonial Pipeline is back up and running after a cyber attack crippled the massive fuel line. But it could be a while before gas distribution returns to normal and that has many wondering if Central Texas could be affected.
Experts at AAA Texas say they do not expect to see much of an impact in Austin and beyond—but they are cautioning people against panic buying of gas, which could essentially create a shortage where there wasn’t one to begin with.
The Colonial Pipeline resumed operations around 4:00 PM Wednesday, after being knocked offline last Friday due to a ransomware attack that is believed to have originated in Russia.
Although the line originates in Texas, it doesn’t really supply our state, and that’s why AAA says we’ve been largely unaffected.
"So that pipeline starting in Houston, Texas, and going all the way up basically the East Coast. So the bottom line is that does supply a lot of the gasoline stations up and down the East Coast," said Josh Zuber, spokesperson for AAA Texas. "The bottom line here is there will be little no impact to our supply in Texas, you know in Austin and the surrounding areas. We’re really not looking to see anything of that magnitude impacting us here in Texas."
As of Thursday morning, Texas gas prices are well below the national average. The average price nationally for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.03—the highest since 2014. But the average price in Texas is just $2.75, and $2.68 in the Austin area.
If you are traveling East, you can always check prices and supply at gas stations on the AAA or GasBuddy apps.
Here in Central Texas, experts say their biggest concern is possible hoarding of gas by people worried it could run out. AAA Texas says they have not seen or heard of any major panic buying in Texas so far, and they want to keep it that way.
Local experts stress that there is not a shortage of gas—especially not in Texas—so they’re asking folks to consider not filling up if you don’t really need to.
"AAA advises that people should not panic buy gasoline. If you’re worried potentially about the fuel gauge in your car, where it’s sitting right now, something to think about is filling up your tank when you’ve got a quarter of a tank remaining, for example. There’s of course a bunch of different ways to conserve fuel," said Zuber. "Also want to note that AAA advises against carrying extra gasoline in your vehicle, because that can be dangerous and can prove deadly."
The Consumer Products Safety Commission tweeted Wednesday "Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline," advising consumers to only use approved containers.