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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina runs dry as gas company plans to restart pipeline

Colonial Pipeline, a company that transports petroleum products from Gulf Coast refineries, was forced to shut down one of its major lines after detecting a 6,000-barrel spill in Shelby County, Ala. on Sep. 9. Both Alabama and Georgia declared a state of emergency after the spill to allow truck drivers to take longer shifts and ensure the delivery of fuel.

The damaged pipeline, known as Line 1, transports about 1.3 million barrels of oil per day to states along the east coast, including North Carolina.

In a Tuesday press release, Colonial Pipeline said it had completed the construction and positioning of a bypass segment to go around the leak site. The bypass, which is 500 feet long, is currently being tested by the company to ensure it won’t leak or break.

Line 1 is expected to resume operations on Wednesday, but in the press release, Colonial Pipeline said the fuel delivery supply chain will take several days to return to normal.

Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed an executive order last week to ensure the state would receive sufficient fuel during the shortage, spoke at a press conference Tuesday after hearing the pipeline would restart.

McCrory said the state’s focus remains on providing first responders with sufficient fuel to perform their jobs.

“We’ve successfully weathered fuel shortages before and we will do it again,” he said. “Now is the time to pull together as a state and to conserve fuel when it’s possible.”

Gas station owner Arindam Dasgupta, who manages the BP station on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, said he had to turn away countless customers over the past few days.

Dasgupta said his station had been running out of fuel before it received a shipment on Monday.

“(The companies) are supplying to us to the best of their abilities, but we didn’t have gas for the last two days and we don’t know the next time we’re going to get it,” he said. “That’s the way it has been for everybody.”

Even though the pipeline will be running by Wednesday, Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, said he expects North Carolina’s gasoline shortage won’t immediately return to normalcy.

“It may be a week or two before we start to see some big relief,” he said. “You will probably really start to notice a difference in the next five to eight days.”

DeHaan said both gas prices and fuel supply will likely worsen in the meantime.

“North Carolina’s gas prices are already up about 12 cents a gallon in the past week. Fuel availability will likely become more of a problem in the next week as the fuel supply dwindles,” he said.

Linc Butler, associate vice chancellor for human resources at UNC, said in an email that faculty, students and staff are encouraged to be flexible during this time period.

“As a general rule, while employees are expected to come to work, individual students, faculty and staff must use their own best judgment about whether they are able to travel to and from campus,” he said.

@Jared_Webby

state@dailytarheel.com

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