As states along the East Coast continue to grapple with gas shortages, experts say the West Coast will not see any impact on gas supply following a shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline earlier this week.
On Wednesday, officials from the Colonial Pipeline company announced that the gas line was resuming operations after shutting down for a few days following a cyber ransomware attack. The 5,500 mile system runs from Texas to New Jersey and supplies about 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast.
The prolonged shutdown led to massive gas shortages between Georgia and Virginia, causing gas prices to spike and increasing the national average to just over $3.
These shortages, however, will not impact California any time soon, Jeffrey Spring, a spokesperson for Southern California AAA, told the News-Press.
“There is no connection between the West Coast and the Colonial Pipeline at all,” Mr. Spring said.
For a few weeks now, gas prices have been on the rise in California, bringing the state’s average price of gas up to $4.12 as of Friday. Mr. Spring said there are likely a few reasons for the increases.
Based on the season, state refineries develop different blends of gas, and that switch leads to annual increases in prices, Mr. Spring said. He added that one of the reasons the state is seeing an uptick in prices is likely due to the recent switch to a summer blend of gas, which increases the base price of gas by 10 to 12 cents.
Another reason for the recent uptick could likely be due to issues with local refineries, which Mr. Spring said was likely caused by malfunctions. He said he believes the refineries are now back on track due to increased inventories and expects to see prices plateau and even drop soon.
“We might be coming near the end of the price increase because we saw for the first time in a few weeks that inventories were increased within the last few weeks,” Mr. Spring said.
He later added, “That tells us we may be near the peak of this price increase.”
Other experts believe what is really at play is simply the force of supply and demand in the marketplace that is driving the rise in gas prices.
“The prices are largely driven by supply and demand, and demand is extra high as we come out of the pandemic and people go back to work and to school and begin to vacation for summer,” Kevin Slagle, the director of communications for the Western States Petroleum Association, told the News-Press. “What you’re seeing is really an impact of supply and demand.”