There is good news for North Carolinians watching their fuel gauges getting on toward empty: pressure testing on the bypass line around the Colonial Pipeline leak has been completed and gas flow was expected to begin again sometime today.
According to Gary Harris, executive director of the NC Petroleum Marketers Association, the tests were complete and fuel would begin moving towards the state’s three fuel depots within the day, but it will take several days for the effects of the shortage to subside and fuel to reach all the state’s 6,600 stations.
“I did receive confirmation that the pressure test of the line has been completed and flow should resume sometime today,” Harris said.
Though interruptions to the fuel supply left many driving around looking for gas or paying higher prices, Harris said that this situation is not like that which occurred four years ago after Hurricane Sandy caused power outages in the Gulf of Mexico region, shutting down the pumps that move fuel up the lines. This time, lines that usually carry diesel or airplane fuel were utilized to make up for the shortage, leaving the state at about one-third of the usual amount of fuel coming in, counting overland and sea tanker transportation.
“It takes a little while to get the system back up and operating when it’s been as dry as it is right now,” Harris said.
Fuel moves up the line at about 3-5 mph. Because there is fuel in the lines ahead of the leak in Alabama, there will be some fuel trickling into the state sooner than it would if it were coming all the way from the Gulf Coast, where most of the Coastal Pipeline Company’s lines begin.
Harris said that state will see a slow rise in fuel supplies over the next few days, and going into next week things will look a lot better.
Colonial Pipeline officials discovered the leak Sep. 9 and shut down the line. The resulting fuel shortages prompted the signing of two executive orders by Gov. Pat McCrory and a declaration of a state of emergency here, activating the state’s anti-price gouging law.