Durham County

Here’s how the Colonial Pipeline shutdown is affecting your costs at the gas pump.

Gas prices are being affected by Thursday’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which moves gasoline from refineries on the Gulf Coast, many affected by Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath.
Gas prices are being affected by Thursday’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which moves gasoline from refineries on the Gulf Coast, many affected by Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath. MCT

If you’re having sticker shock at the gas pump, you’re not alone.

After hovering near $2 per gallon in recent weeks, prices ranged from $2.19-2.49 in Durham on Thursday according to GasBuddy.com.

The spike in gas prices can be traced to a couple of factors. First, there usually is a jump in prices leading into to a holiday travel weekend, which in this case is Labor Day. And second, and most importantly is the pipeline that moves gasoline from the Gulf Coast refineries throughout the South is being shut down because of Hurricane Harvey.

In anticipation of gasoline shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey, Gov. Roy Cooper issued executive orders that will help maintain gasoline supplies for North Carolina. They will make it easier for vehicles transporting gasoline and emergency relief supplies to travel through North Carolina.

“Hurricane Harvey’s damage to refineries in Texas and Louisiana could ripple throughout the southeast, causing gasoline shortages and rising prices,” Gov. Cooper said. “I’m taking action to make it easier to get gasoline into our state so North Carolinians who need gas can get it.”

Colonial Pipeline shut down a key line that supplies gasoline to the South due to storm-related refinery outages and Harvey’s effect on its facilities west of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The Georgia-based company shut off the line Thursday, the company said in a statement. Colonial had already closed down its other main line, which transports diesel and aviation fuels.

The pipeline provides nearly 40 percent of the South’s gasoline.

In September 2016, a leak and gas spill in Alabama that closed the Colonial Pipeline led to days of empty gas station pumps and higher prices in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

Harvey’s devastating strike on the Gulf Coast has prompted one of the summer’s largest one-week price surges, AAA reports.

Colonial Pipeline has not indicated how long it expects the closure to last, saying it will know more when workers can evaluate its facilities.

Half of the 26 refineries that connect to Colonial’s pipeline system are between storm-ravaged Houston and Lake Charles, which is just east of the Beaumont-Port Arthur metro area.

“Once Colonial is able to ensure that its facilities are safe to operate and refiners in Lake Charles and points east have the ability to move product to Colonial, our system will resume operations,” the company said in its statement.

The Colonial Pipeline runs from the Houston area to the New York harbor and includes more than 5,500 miles of pipeline, most of it underground.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6889, @JEJ_HSNews

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