While some places in the Southeast have experienced fuel shortages, the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline by a cybercriminal group is not affecting Central Florida — at least not now.
Panic buying will only cause problems, an AAA spokesman said.
“Right now, there is plenty of gasoline, and it needs to get to where it needs to go,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins told The Beacon. “I think the problem comes with people going out and topping their tanks off or filling gasoline cans.”
National news outlets have reported long lines of cars at gas stations, and even a few fights, as motorists with short nerves fear not getting their share of what could become a dwindling supply.
Last week, a group of hackers known as DarkSide disabled the Colonial Pipeline with ransomware.
Ransomware is a program that locks up the computer systems that control automated operations, unless or until the victim of the cyberattack pays the extorting party to remove the malware.
Colonial Pipeline, whose corporate offices are in Alpharetta, Georgia, provides approximately 45 percent of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for much of the U.S. east coast.
The Colonial Pipeline, as shown in the graphic, does not cross Florida. The refined fuels available in Florida largely come by ship through Port Everglades and Tampa, Jenkins noted.
Most of the gasoline sold in Central Florida comes from a regional fuel depot in Taft, located south of Orlando.
The average price of a gallon of self-serve unleaded regular gas in Florida is now $2.88, Jenkins said, while the national average is $2.98.
“There is gasoline waiting to be consumed,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins added that the supplies may become short if the Colonial Pipeline remains out of service for a prolonged period.
Volusia County government is taking preventive action.
“Volusia County Fleet Management has begun the process of increasing the fuel levels in all our fuel tanks, and will continue to do that in case supply becomes an issue,” Fleet Management Director Robert Gilmore said in a statement. “Currently, our suppliers are not seeing any supply issues for Central Florida but says [sic] if the pipeline is not returned by the end of the week, there could be some Florida fuel diverted to cover the needs elsewhere. This could cause some supply issues locally.”