Area gas prices rise alongside state average

Colonial Pipeline bypass to restart supply today

Drivers in the Northern Shenandoah Valley may still see gas prices inch higher even as the Colonial Pipeline starts using a bypass around an Alabama gas leak.

Colonial Pipeline, which transports gasoline from Gulf Coast refineries up through New York City, first shut down its main lines on Sept. 9 in response to a leak in Shelby County, Alabama. The incident has caused higher fuel prices and some gas shortages. Colonial Pipeline reported Tuesday that a 500-foot bypass segment should allow its main line to restart today, but that “it will take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal.”

In a Monday news release, AAA Mid-Atlantic reported that the pipeline can carry around 1.2 million barrels of gasoline per day. Until the disruption caused by the pipeline is fully resolved, prices in Virginia could rise by as much as 20 cents.

Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said on Tuesday that Virginia’s prices have gone up by an average of 8 cents since Friday and are expected to continue rising.

“This is not something that we expect to be resolved overnight,” she said.

According to AAA’s online fuel price finder, local prices in the Northern Shenandoah Valley have crept up anywhere from 6 to 14 cents since last week. The average price for a gallon of gas has climbed from $2.05 to $2.19 in Woodstock, from $1.96 to $2.02 in Front Royal and from $2.05 to $2.17 in Winchester. In Mount Jackson, New Market and Harrisonburg, the average price per gallon has increased from about $2.00 to $2.10.

Most area gas prices were still below the national average of $2.21 on Tuesday, but pushing past Virginia’s average cost of $2.07 per gallon. Arnette said that even though Virginia’s average price per gallon has increased from $1.99 last week, it’s still one of 10 states with the lowest prices nationwide.

Rick Koontz is vice president of Holtzman Oil Corporation, which provides gasoline and diesel to area stations and convenience stores. He said Holtzman isn’t anticipating bags on any of the gas station pumps that it supplies, since the company can tap into fuel from Canada and the Midwest.

“We’ve been able to keep our locations supplied,” he said. “We’re able to do that because of going to different terminals up north to pick up the product.”

The transportation costs of getting fuel from those terminals translate into higher prices at the pump, he said. He estimated that most stations in the area have upped their per gallon prices by about 10 cents, and said it would be around mid-October before things return to normal.

Bob Claytor, president of H. N. Funkhouser & Company, said his company’s fuel supply has been supplemented by Pennsylvania terminals in the New York harbor market, not connected to Colonial’s pipeline. He said that fuel supply cycles from Colonial are about six days long and that “it’s going to take a couple cycles to get things back to normal again.”

“We’re very fortunate … that we’re so close to another whole market,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll see anything bad happen up here.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

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