PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Some area gas stations are suddenly out of fuel because of the trickle-down effect from the cyber attack of the Colonial Pipeline last week.
Before you start burning gas in an attempt to find a place to fill your tank, WAVY News 10 is on your side with a way to do some research before you get behind the wheel.
“Just looking for gas, there was none nowhere,” said driver Kadeem Easley. “I thought it was just one of those, everybody was acting crazy, but there’s really no gas anywhere around the city.”
GasBuddy has created an online tool that lets you search by zip code for gas stations that have available fuel.
Much like gas right now, this site is also in high demand. So if you can’t get the site to load, keep trying.
The main GasBuddy site lets drivers search by fuel type, payment methods, station brand or the most recently updated prices.
“I’m hoping it’s going to blow over in a couple of days because, you know, if not, I can’t walk to work,” said driver Robin Rocha.
The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel on the East Coast, was hit by a cyberattack last Friday. The pipeline announced Wednesday evening that it had restarted operations.
“To the best of my knowledge, we have no marketers in Virginia that are receiving product other than through the Colonial Pipeline,” said Michael O’Connor, president of the Virginia Petroleum & Convenience Marketers Association.
O’Connor said local consumers are not used to seeing bags on nozzles and “out of order signs” which may fuel the frenzy to buy more than they need right now.
Analysts say what’s happening now is unwarranted panic-buying among drivers.
“There’s not a gas shortage in the country. There is plenty of fuel. This is a matter of distribution and getting it to the stations as they need it,” said Holly Dalby, Director of Public Affairs with AAA Tidewater.
Dalby says gas prices are up an average of 12 cents in Hampton Roads since Monday. She is urging drivers to be patient.
“Wait until you’re down to that quarter tank before you go fill up. Don’t put gas in your tank every day,” said Dalby. “Don’t get five mobile gas cans to sit in your garage, because that’s just taking fuel from somebody else that actually does need it.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Tuesday. As part of the declaration, it activates the anti-price gouging act. If you believe a supplier if unreasonably overcharging, you can file a motor fuel price gouging complaint with the Virginia Department of Agriculture at this link.
Northam urged Virginians not to panic buy.
Federal and state emergency declarations will also temporarily allow truck drivers to exceed weight limits on gasoline deliveries. They are also increasing the number of hours a truck driver can operate, while still requiring them to take breaks and the summer blend gas is getting an extended spring break.
Following the announcement that the Colonial Pipeline had restarted operations, Northam said he had spoken with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about the restart.
“We will continue working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to mitigate the impacts of this incident in our Commonwealth.,” Northam wrote on Twitter Wednesday night.
“There’s a federal requirement under the clean air act for reformulated gasoline to be used in HR in the summertime, which just started May 1st, so we’ve been able to put that on hold so you can bring in conventional gasoline which is somewhat more available,” O’Connor told WAVY.
In the Virginia’s most populous city — Virginia Beach — there is plenty of gas available for the large fleet of vehicles.
“Our deliveries are being delivered on schedule as scheduled,” said Drew Lankford, a spokesperson for the department of public works. “We have tanks all over the city … that take care of every fire truck, every police car, every EMS, every ambulance.”
The military and shipbuilding industry is also feeling the squeeze from the pipeline attack.
Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story said the base commander has directed fuel rationing at the NEX gas station until further notice. Pumps won’t give customers more than $40 in has, and fueling recreational vehicles such as boats, jet skis and RVs and external gas containers is prohibited.
In the meantime, Newport News Shipbuilding has made some changes for employees as gas shortages may continue locally.
- Supervisors have been asked to allow employees who are able to work from home to do so until the gas issue resolves, which could be into next week.
- NNS employees who must work onsite are encouraged to rideshare. Beginning on the first shift Thursday, May 13, NNS will offer premium parking for any vehicle with a NNS hangtag that has three or more riders in certain parking lots. The parking areas will be clearly marked with group rider signs. Shipyard security will enforce the special parking for the first two hours of each shift. After that, they will be open to any vehicle with a Zone A hangtag.
- North Yard (between van and handicap spaces near the ATM machine)
- Lot at 50th Street Gate (between 49th and 50th streets)
- Lot between 43rd and 44th Street at Washington Avenue
- In front of Building 520 (41st Street and Washington Avenue.
- The NNS shuttle service between 1:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., as well as buses to the NNS Vaccination Site, are suspended immediately. Employees impacted by these changes who need transportation services should call NNS Taxi Services at (757) 846-7730. Employees traveling during work shifts are encouraged to minimize fuel consumption by walking or biking.
- Non-essential business travel will be postponed through May 14.