North Carolina Drivers 'Panic Buying' Gas, Spurs Shortage At Some Stations

By Sarah Tate

May 12, 2021

Days after the Colonial Pipeline Company halted its operations, putting a pause in the gasoline that supplies about 45% of the fuel along the East Coast, North Carolina is facing a shortage of fuel at gas stations around the state. However, experts say the shortage is mainly caused by consumers "panic buying" and hoarding fuel, ABC 11 reports.

Just like when people flock to the store to buy bread and milk before a storm, or when there was a shortage of toilet paper and cleaning supplies at the start of the pandemic, drivers across the state have attempted to fuel their vehicles ahead of any price increase or shortage. The problem, however, is this creates a shortage in the short term. In fact, WXII reports that over a quarter of all gas stations in North Carolina are without gasoline, as of Wednesday (May 12).

Patrick De Haan, an analyst for GasBuddy, reported the percentage of gas stations without gasoline in several southeastern and East Coast states as of 11 a.m. Wednesday. Of the 10 states listed, North Carolina is leading the pack in terms of gas shortage, with more than 28% of stations reporting no gasoline compared to the next lowest shortage of 17%.

As drivers wait in long lines to fuel up, several regions in the state are reporting an even higher percentage of fuel shortages. In the metro Raleigh area, 72% of gas stations reported they did not have fuel, per ABC 11. Charlotte is facing an almost identical shortage, with 71% of stations out of fuel, WCNC reports.

"We are our own worst enemy," said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson for AAA of the Carolinas. "When it comes to these things, we talk about the bread and the milk and people going out during the pandemic, it was the toilet paper. It's a knee-jerk reaction we go and we panic and we over-consume."

As of Wednesday, the pipeline remained offline; it is unclear when it will resume operations, but the company announced Monday that it hoped to restore operations by the end of the week.

Photo: Getty Images

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