Gas prices drop overnight in Charlotte, first decline since Colonial Pipeline shutdown

·3 min read

Charlotte’s average price for regular unleaded gasoline dipped overnight, the first decrease since a May 7 cyberattack forced the shutdown of a major fuel pipeline.

As of Tuesday, drivers in Charlotte can expect to see an average price of $2.926 for regular fuel, compared to $2.932 on Monday, according to AAA.

The average price for regular fuel in North Carolina remained unchanged from Monday, but it’s still up about 15 cents from a week ago. The national average also held steady at about $3.043, six cents higher than last week.

Live updates: Find where you can still buy gasoline in Charlotte with interactive map

The decrease in price comes as about 47% of North Carolina gas stations remain without fuel because of the six-day Colonial Pipeline shutdown, GasBuddy.com reported Tuesday morning. That’s a significant decline from a peak of nearly 75%. In South Carolina, about 43% of stations were out, down from a high of 54.2%.

The pipeline delivers 45 percent of the gasoline supply to the East Coast.

The number of stations in the Southeast without gasoline is likely to drop under 10,000 today, a 38% improvement from the peak number of outages (16,193) last Thursday, GasBuddy.com energy analyst Patrick De Haan said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Gas prices haven’t been this high for the Memorial Day weekend since 2018 when they were $2.97 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. In 2018, a spike in crude oil prices led to gas prices increasing ahead of the holiday weekend, according to CNN Business. Last week, North Carolina’s average gas price for regular fuel hovered around $2.98, which was the state’s highest summer gas price since 2014 when it was $3.66.

The Colonial Pipeline shutdown has accelerated summer gas prices greatly, Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson, wrote in an email to the Observer on Tuesday.

Memorial Day weekend

More than 37 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more between May 27 and May 31, AAA said. In North Carolina, AAA is forecasting that 1.1 million residents will take a trip during the upcoming holiday weekend, a 61% increase from last year, when fewer than 700,000 residents traveled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

North Carolinians are paying about $1 more for fuel than a year ago and 29 cents more than in 2019.

“Many Carolinians are so eager to travel, we don’t expect higher gas prices to interfere with their plans,” Wright said in a news release. “We typically find when pump prices increase, travelers look for more free activities or eat out less while on vacation, but still take their planned trips.”

AAA expects drivers to unleash “a year’s worth of pent-up demand” this summer.

“For many people, this will be their first summer vacation in two years, and things will look a little different,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of Travel for AAA. “Because of the pandemic, many theme parks and hotels are running at reduced capacity, and some services are not currently available. Cruise lines are also accepting bookings, but their policies may vary based on whether you’re vaccinated.

“That’s why we encourage travelers to plan ahead and work with a trusted travel advisor, to ensure they get the best advice and value for their vacation,” she said.

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