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AAA: Southeastern Fuel Pipeline Leak Not Affecting FL

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photo via Flickr// Michael Kappel
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Emergencies have been declared in a half-dozen Southeastern states, after a leak in a gasoline pipeline began to show up at the pump. 

Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia have all have relaxed restrictions on fuel transportation to stave off shortages and price spikes. 

“Right now we don’t see it having any major impact on gas prices in the Panhandle or in Florida as a whole,” said Mark Jenkins at AAA-South in Tampa. “The majority of the gasoline we receive here in Florida is delivered via ship from refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.”

The Colonial Pipeline was shut down September 3, after the 250,000 gallon leak was detected south of Birmingham. Its 5,500 miles of underground pipe serves more than 50 million people in transporting more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel per day to markets between Houston and New York City. That’s about 40 percent of the region's gasoline supply.

Over the weekend, some gas stations in Georgia and Tennessee ran out of gas altogether, while prices in some areas shot up anywhere from 13-21 cents per gallon. Jenkins says for now, Florida is keeping the status quo.

“The only potential that we could run into would be that if there are massive amounts of supplies that are shipped from different metro areas close to the Alabama and Georgia coastlines,” said Jenkins. “If we have gasoline that’s shipped from Pensacola, for instance, up north. But right now we don’t really see that as a major issue.”

Crews are working to repair the leak. Colonial Pipeline’s latest update says repairs could be complete this week. In the meantime, gas is being detoured through an undamaged second line that usually handles diesel and jet fuel. If you’re heading into the affected area, Jenkins advises keeping normal driving habits.

“By and large, most gas stations that you’ll run into will have gasoline,” Jenkins said. “But the best thing you can do – especially if you’re taking a long road trip – is not let your fuel gauge get terribly low. I’d say if it starts to go below half a tank and above a quarter-tank is where you want to start thinking about making that next stop to re-fuel.”

Looking back at 2016 so far, Jenkins says it’s been a great year, with gas prices their lowest in more than a decade and expected to continue that way until at least until the end of the year, including the holiday driving season.

And AAA’s Mark Jenkins is quick to add  presidential elections have little, if any, impact at the pump.

“No, at least not directly,” said Jenkins. “Right now, the major impacts on gas prices remain supply and demand, and oil prices.”