(CN) – A crucial gasoline pipeline shut down after its operator discovered a massive spill in rural Alabama is expected to restart Wednesday, easing a gas crunch that is already pushing up prices in the eastern United States.
The pipeline, which runs from Houston to New York and ordinarily provides 1.3 million barrels of gasoline per day to East Coast was closed two weeks ago after officials of Colonial Pipeline discovered a 336,000 gallon spill in a heavily-wooded section of Shelby County, Ala.
Since then, the auto club AAA says gas prices have climbed appreciably in several southern states and some filling stations have simply had no gas to sell.
A sense of relief arrived Tuesday, after Colonial Pipeline spokesman Steve Baker revealed the company has completed its bypass repair and expects to restart its main gasoline line Wednesday.
But Baker said motorists need to be patient as it still will take a few days for the fuel supply chain to fully recover after the line restarts.
The leak was discovered on Sept. 9, and in its wake, Gov. Nathan Deal, of Georgia, and Gov. Robert Bentley, of Alabama, declared states of emergency to prevent price gouging at the pump and to allow truckers to work overtime to deliver fuel from out of state.
AAA reported that in Georgia, Tuesday’s average price for regular gas rose about 5 cents since Monday, to an average $2.36 statewide — up nearly 27 cents over the past week. The price has climbed nearly 7 cents since Monday in the Macon and Augusta areas.
South Carolina saw an average price rise of nearly 4 cents from Monday to Tuesday — up nearly 18 cents from a week ago. The Columbia, South Carolina area saw prices rise about 6 cents since Monday.
AAA reported Tuesday that Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia also saw prices climb since Monday.
In Alabama Gov. Bentley said gas prices in parts of the state rose 20 cents over the weekend after a pipeline leak but he didn’t consider that price gouging.
Bentley said Monday that the price sometimes changes that much overnight.
A yellow bag reads “sorry temporarily out of service” informing customers of a gas outage at a station in Alabaster, Ala., on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson.)
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