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Gas prices spike after broken pipeline causes fuel shortages in Southeast

A leak in September, 2016 caused the closure of a key pipeline that carries gas to the eastern United States, a disruption that's already causing inconveniences for consumers in the region.
A number of service stations in Metro-Atlanta and north Georgia had run out of gas. Gas prices are up on average 16 cents in Georgia and 10 cents in Tennessee since last weekend, according to AAA.

A leak in September, 2016 caused the closure of a key pipeline that carries gas to the eastern United States, a disruption that's already causing inconveniences for consumers in the region. A number of service stations in Metro-Atlanta and north Georgia had run out of gas. Gas prices are up on average 16 cents in Georgia and 10 cents in Tennessee since last weekend, according to AAA.

ATLANTA — Gas prices are spiking in the Southeast because of a broken pipeline — and some drivers are having trouble finding gas at all.

A leak earlier this month forced the closure of the pipeline, which runs from Houston to New York and carries gas to much of the Southeast and East Coast.

Some service stations in metro Atlanta and north Georgia had run out of gas on Sunday night. At others that still had gas, cars were lined up — even for premium.

Gas prices are up an average of 21 cents in Georgia and 13 cents in Tennessee since last weekend, according to AAA. Drivers are paying an average of $2.32 in Georgia and $2.13 in Tennessee.

Some drivers spotted even bigger price hikes. Bryan Jones, 48, a finance director from Berkeley Lake, Georgia, snapped a picture of a station on his morning commute that was charging $2.99 for regular grade gas.

“This was a good 30 cents higher than I saw anywhere else yesterday and this morning,” Jones told CNNMoney. “Even yesterday, prices were probably around $2.50.”

When Jones finally stopped for gas, he said he paid $47 to fill up his 2016 Nissan Maxima with premium fuel. Jones said he considered working from home Monday instead of driving the 25 minutes to his office in the Atlanta area, but decided against it.

Jones said the prices and shortages — he’s seen a few stations shut down — prompted him to buy gas earlier than usual this week. Now he says he’ll think twice before deciding whether he needs to use his car.

“I’ll be more careful,” Jones said, “just kind of depending on when they get things fixed and when service gets back to normal.”

In North Carolina, the Department of Public Safety said the state was experiencing “spotty” shortages. Similar issues were reported in parts of Tennessee. And authorities in South Carolina said they had heard of “isolated cases” of gas stations running out of fuel.

Six states across the region — Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia — have declared states of emergency, relaxing limits on fuel transportation to try to stave off shortages and price spikes.

The problems so far don’t appear too severe, however.

Authorities in Tennessee and South Carolina said there have been no widespread fuel shortages. Officials in other states were unable to provide more details on the situation Sunday.

A section of the Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Houston to New York, has been closed since Sept. 9 after a spill of roughly 250,000 gallons was discovered in rural Shelby County, Ala.

The Colonial Pipeline provides gasoline for an estimated 50 million people on the East Coast each day, according to company estimates. The cause of the leak has yet to be determined.

The company has been scrambling to get the pipeline back online. On Saturday night, it said it was building a bypass line to get fuel flowing again.

The closure has set off an industry-wide scramble as suppliers seek alternative ways to transport gasoline to the East Coast.