Drivers filling their tanks in Ohio haven’t seen particularly dramatic spikes in gas prices as national hikes and shortages follow the shutdown of a major U. S. pipeline over the weekend, but AAA expects prices will continue to rise in the state.
According to the AAA website, the national average for gas prices surpassed $3 on Wednesday morning. Ohio sits about 13 cents under the national average — but state averages rose 4 cents overnight, from $2.83 on Tuesday to $2.87 on Wednesday.
A cybersecurity attack on the colonial Pipeline, which provides 45% of East Coast fuel, led the company to shut down operations last Friday. It restarted Wednesday.
As of Wednesday morning, Columbus and Cleveland prices were on par with the state average, while Cincinnati was slightly higher. Two weeks ago, one gallon of gas cost around $2.80 in Columbus.
Will there be gas shortages in Ohio?
While the cost of fuel is trending upward in Ohio and around the country, AAA Ohio Auto Club Senior Manager of Public Affairs Kimberly Schwind said Ohio is not predicted to see any shortages as a result of the shuttered pipeline.
“It’s a very regional thing,” Schwind said in an interview. “The supply concern has been expected for the coastal states.”
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at gas station price checker app GasBuddy, wrote in an email Tuesday evening that shortages in Ohio would be “surprising, but not impossible.”
As people lined up to fill their tanks in some Southeast states experiencing shortages, Schwind urged against panic-buying gas.
“We have to keep in mind that there is ample gasoline supply in the United States,” she said. “This is not a supply issue, it’s more of a logistics issue in actually getting the gasoline where it needs to be.”
Ohio Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association President Jennifer Rhoads said gas stations are starting to see an increase in demand for gas, even though the state is not expected to face supply problems resulting from the pipeline closure.
Schwind said Ohioans may see the biggest hit as they travel to driving destinations like Pennsylvania, Tennessee or East Coast beaches in the upcoming weeks.
Fallout from the shutdown could cause continued cost spikes in affected areas with less than three weeks until Memorial Day weekend, when gas prices traditionally trend high. It is expected to take between 15 and 18 days for fuel to flow normally across the country now that the pipeline is operating again — right around Memorial Day.