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SC gov: ‘No need to rush to top off your gas tanks’

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 12:48 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is urging residents not to run to fill their gas tanks while a pipeline shutdown is causing gas prices to edge toward $3 per gallon.

“There is no need to rush to top off your gas tanks or hoard gas,” the governor posted on Twitter. “The pipeline is expected to resume operations by the end of the week.”

McMaster said because the state is currently under a state of emergency, transportation waivers and price gouging laws are in effect to “facilitate fuel delivery and protect consumers.”

AAA says the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.98, one cent shy of the most expensive gas price since November 2014.

That’s a jump of nearly two full cents over Monday’s average, AAA said.

CLICK HERE to check gas prices in your area.

But in South Carolina, the average price per gallon remained at $2.74. GasBuddy, which surveys gas station prices, reports the lowest gas price in the Tri-County area was at a Red Bank Road gas station in Goose Creek, where the per gallon price was $2.50. The lowest in the Lowcountry was one cent lower at a North Frasier Street station in Georgetown.

Among the 10 lowest per-gallon prices, all are under the $2.60 mark.

Drivers in parts of the east coast, including South Carolina, are feeling the immediate effects of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.

Despite reports that some airports might be at risk of low supply, Charleston International Airport spokesman Spencer Pryor says Charleston’s airport has not been advised of any shortage concerns.

“Park your car, alleviate the situation. Leave the fuel to those who absolutely need it,” GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHann told CNN.

He urged against rushing to fill their tanks, saying drivers should show “extreme restraint” in buying gas or else they could exacerbate and prolong any fuel shortages.

“If the pipeline returns to service in the next day or two, the challenges will be minimal, but if full restart doesn’t happen by then, we’re likely to see a slight rise in gas prices, but more importantly, challenges for motorists needing fuel in Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Virginia, Northern Florida and surrounding areas,” he said.

AAA says the average price per gallon in North Carolina is $2.78, just four cents more per gallon than in South Carolina. In Georgia, the average price per gallon is $2.87, according to AAA.

The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel used along the Eastern Seaboard, shut down Friday after a ransomware attack by gang of criminal hackers that calls itself DarkSide.

Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, the incident could impact millions of consumers. Experts say there’s no imminent gasoline shortfall, and thus no need for panic buying. But if the shutdown drags on for weeks or more, it could lead to price spikes and low supplies at some gas stations.

The 5,500-mile pipeline extends from Texas to New Jersey and goes through South Carolina.

President Joe Biden said Monday he does not think the Russian government is to blame.

“I’m going to be meeting with President Putin, and so far, there is no evidence based on, from our intelligence people, that Russia is involved,” Biden said. “Although there’s evidence that the actors, ransomware, is in Russia. They have some responsibility to deal with this.”

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.