Colonial Pipeline initiated the restart of pipeline operations today at approximately 5 p.m. ET. Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.
With reports that the Colonial Pipeline, which stretches over 5,500 miles and provides about 45% of the gas and diesel to the Eastern Seaboard, was hacked last Friday, its no wonder long lines have been forming at gas stations all over the state and prices are rising.
But Dr. Eduardo del Valle, a chemical engineer who now works as a consultant to the petroleum industry, says that the rising prices are a normal effect of the approaching summer and that South Floridians should not be "panic buying" gas.
Del Valle says there is a surplus. Since the pipeline is partly shutdown, the ships that bring gas and diesel to South Florida are full with gas and can replenish very quickly, so staying in those long lines, he says, is a waste of time.
Here is what Del Valle had to tell us about the hack, panic buying, Gov. Ron DeSantis' emergency declaration, and what to do if you want to have some extra gas on hand, just in case.
Q: Why shouldn't South Florida residents panic?
"South Florida probably has the highest level of gasoline supplies anywhere in the nation. We get supplied by ships. We don't depend on the pipeline. Only one area in the panhandle and in the north of Florida has a lateral connected to the pipeline, but they can get supplies from Tampa. Look. All of Florida, starting with South Florida, Port Everglades, all the way up to Jacksonville, get supplied by tankers on the West Coast. Tampa is a big importer of gasoline and diesel through the ports there. And they have a pipeline to distribute all the way to Orlando. So all of Florida is basically covered."
Q: What do you think about Gov. DeSantis' emergency declaration?
"He probably did it out of precaution because people are people and when they don't know, they panic. So, maybe the governor was told, just have the standby authority. But there is absolutely no fundamental reason why it should be needed. And I encourage the consumer not to worry because there is plenty of supply. In fact, there is too much supply for Florida. Florida is to some extent enjoying this bonanza because since they can't pump the gasoline into the pipeline, they have to put it somewhere. And, guess what? Florida is the prime area where they're coming for gasoline. If you check in Port Everglades, I guarantee you there are tanks are all the way to the rafters."
Q: If people want to stock up on gas, how should they do so safely?
"Gasoline is very explosive and very dangerous, and if you're going to store gasoline, better do it properly. Yeah, there are plastic containers that are properly designed for gasoline and keep it outside your home, don't keep it inside the home. First of all, the fumes can be toxic. They kind of accumulate and gasoline is explosive and burns very, very hard. So I would discourage people from doing that."
To report price gouging, contact the Miami State Attorney's Office 305-547-3300 or email email@example.com