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Gas delays shut down pumps, increase cost for Maryland drivers

Posted at 5:47 PM, May 12, 2021

TOWSON, Md. — "It sounds like a joke," said Tony.

But it’s no joke. A ransomware attack on the country’s largest fuel pipeline has caused gas delays across the East Coast.

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"I’ve been to three different gas stations in the area in the last hour and this is the only one that’s had gas," said Gabe, getting gas at the Shell on York Road in Towson.

Wednesday evening, Colonial Pipeline initiated a restart of its operations but says it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.

In the meantime, Gov. Larry Hogan authorized the Maryland Department of Transportation to take emergency measures, increasing suppliers flexibility to address disruptions.

MDOT can now issue emergency waivers of weight restrictions and hours-of-service requirements for Maryland motor carriers.

"So the drivers can work longer hours because there’s a lot of lines at the terminals," said John Phelps, president of Baltimore-based Carroll Independent Fuel Company.

Phelps said supply is tight and this helps them out.

"This is gonna be fine. We’ll get through it," said Phelps.

He’s not worried about a shortage. It’s the delays in getting the gas to the consumer that we are seeing.

"I think over half the fuel that comes into Baltimore is from the Colonial and the other half is water-born so we still have the water-born product and we can go to out of state terminals to bring product in," said Phelps. "There’s gasoline out there. It’s just a matter of getting it to the terminals and for us getting it to the stations."

In the meantime, AAA Mid-Atlantic said gas prices could go up as much as 7 cents just this week.

"All the gas prices are over $3 now, it’s absolutely ridiculous," said Gabe.

Phelps said just be patient, it should be over in a week.

"I just think if everybody keeps a cool head and just be smart, there’s no reason to hoard it at this time. It’s not like the 70s with the shortage," said Phelps.

Hogan also echoed that there’s no need for panic buying and that will make things worse. He said while the disruption is expected to be short term, the state is preparing for all contingencies.

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott said he doesn't expect a major impact, that they have about 14 days worth of fuel for the city.