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Gas climbs over $3 but it's not because of pipeline shutdown

The Colonial Pipeline shutdown wreaking havoc in the Southeast isn’t likely to affect Connecticut gasoline prices so long as it’s resolved by the end of the week, as anticipated, according to an AAA Greater Hartford spokeswoman.

“We hear about it supplying the East Coast, but it only goes as far north as New Jersey,” Amy Parmenter said Tuesday of the area the pipeline supplies. “That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have an impact on us if it was shut down for a prolonged period.”

She defined prolonged as “more than a week.”

The pipeline, hit by a cyberattack Friday, remained shut down Tuesday, causing some gasoline shortages and price hikes as well as long lines at pumps in some southeastern states, including North Carolina and Virginia. The federal government has said an organized crime group, DarkSide, was responsible for the attack, which affected some Colonial information systems.

“It’s all hands on deck at Colonial to rectify the situation,” Parmenter said. “We’ve heard a couple of places in Virginia have temporarily run out of gas, but it’s not market-wide. It’s not like a whole town is out of gas but more like one brand in a town.”

Colonial also supplies such states as Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“In no way should there be any panic buying here,” Parmenter said.

Gas prices Tuesday in Connecticut averaged $3.02 a gallon, the highest price since early May 2019, the last time the average broke the $3 mark, according to AAA Greater Hartford. In the New London-Norwich area, the average price was $3.04, up a penny since the previous day, up 6 cents in a week and 11 cents in a month, and $1.15 higher than a year ago.

Nationally, the average price was $2.98 a gallon Tuesday and, because of the pipeline shutdown, was expected to soon exceed $3 for the first time since 2014.

Parmenter said the increase in Connecticut gas prices is typical of this time of year, heading into the Memorial Day weekend, and that the supply of gasoline is not an issue. She said sporadic incidents of shortages at gas stations in highly traveled, resort areas likely would be the result of a shortage of tanker-truck drivers and only would affect certain stations.

Prices are where they were at this time in 2018 and 2019, with last year’s prices deviating from the norm because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on demand.

“Demand is higher,” Parmenter said. “The expectation is that this summer will see the return of the Great American Road Trip.”

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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