Gas prices are expected to climb throughout the week in reaction to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

Over the weekend, the pipeline was hit by a cybersecurity attack and, as a precaution, shut down. The pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York Harbor, delivers about 45% of all fuel to the East Coast, according to AAA.

Tennessee’s average gas price is now $2.81, which is 11 cents more than a week ago, 13 cents more than a month ago and $1.20 more than a year ago, AAA reported.

“This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally. Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the East Coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson, in a press release. “These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.”

Most expensive gas prices in the state

Jackson ($2.83)

Johnson City ($2.83)

Nashville ($2.85)

Least expensive gas prices in the state

Chattanooga ($2.77)

Cleveland ($2.78)

Knoxville ($2.78)

Across the nation

The Associated Press reported that the pipeline restarted operations late Wednesday, saying in a statement that “all lines, including those lateral lines that have been running manually, will return to normal operations.”

It will take several days for deliveries to return to normal, the company told the AP. The disruption of the pipeline caused long lines at gas stations in the Southeast due to distribution problems and panic-buying, draining supplies at thousands of gas stations.

AAA reported that the national average gas price had risen to $3.01 on Wednesday. This is 8 cents more than a week ago, 15 cents more than a month ago and $1.16 more than a year ago.

Will the city of Kingsport be affected?

Steve Hightower, fleet maintenance manager for the city of Kingsport, said the disruption at the pump this week will not likely affect the municipality.

Kingsport buys its gasoline and diesel at a percentage above rack price from a vendor through an annual contract.

“What usually drives rack price is speculation on the market. If there’s speculation on stock prices it’ll push up the cost per barrel, potentially increasing fuel pricing,” Hightower said. “But it’s usually in small percentages and not large jumps like you’d see at the pump. What happened this week will not likely affect Kingsport and if it does it would be minute.”

Much of the gasoline and diesel in our region is supplied to us out of Knoxville. Knoxville is a depot for fuel and Colonial Pipeline does has a branch that goes to Knoxville.

As far as Kingsport’s stockpile goes, Hightower said the city is currently sitting on a three-week supply of gasoline and a two-week supply of diesel. On top of that, Kingsport has more than 120 vehicles powered by propane, which reduces the city’s need to rely on traditional fuels.

“Since we’re sitting on top of inventory and use propane as motor fuel, we don’t jump too quickly,” Hightower said. “We’ll monitor it because that’s what we’re supposed to do and take steps accordingly if we see something going amiss. In this case what’s driven the shortages is public panic.”

Fuel-conserving tips

Earlier this week, AAA shared the following tips for conserving fuel:

  • Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and avoid high-traffic times of day when possible.
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey.
  • Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than for larger models.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
  • In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunscreen to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning, thus fuel, to cool down the car.