2016 Southeastern United States gasoline shortage

2016 Southeastern United States gasoline shortage
ValeroPump GasShortage Sep20 16.jpg
Vehicles, part of a 20+ line, approach a Valero Fueling Station in Raleigh, NC.
DateSeptember 12, 2016; 3 years ago (September 12, 2016) - September 21, 2016; 3 years ago (September 21, 2016)
Also known as2016 Southeast Gas Shortage

The 2016 Southeastern United States gasoline shortage was an phenomenon caused by the 2016 Colonial Pipeline Leak and the resulting panic buying in which many gas stations across six states have entirely run out of gasoline, causing price hikes, halts of services, and several declarations of states of emergency.[1]

On Monday, September 12, 2016, a leak occurred in Shelby County, Alabama, spilling an estimated 350,000 US gallons of summer-grade gasoline, requiring a partial shutdown of the pipeline, and causing gas shortages in much of the Southeastern United States. Six states were affected (Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia), with Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia declaring states of emergency. These declarations eliminated certain size and weight restrictions on vehicles carrying gasoline, and the hours which they are allowed to deliver.[2]

Many gas stations in the affected regions entirely ran out of gas. Panic buying greatly contributed to this.[3]


The Colonial Pipeline leak in Shelby County, Alabama was first detected on September 9.[4] By September 17, the affected regions began experiencing gas shortages due to the leak and panic buying. Colonial has announced the construction of a bypass pipeline.[5]

On September 21, Colonial Pipeline Company announced the completion of an emergency bypass pipeline. Whilst flow is now at optimal rates, Colonial claims it will be "several days" before processed fuel reaches and replenishes affected areas.[6]

Government response[edit]

On September 13, Georgia governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency. On September 15, Alabama governor Robert J. Bentley declared a state of emergency.[7][8] The pipeline was shut down on September 16,[9] and federal regulators began investigating the cause of the leak.[10] North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley all declared states of emergency, allowing fuel tankers to work longer hours to maintain the availability of gasoline.[11]

On September 21, the states of North Carolina and Virginia declared their states of emergency over upon the news of the Colonial Pipeline's completion of the bypass.[12]


  1. ^ Riley, Charles (2016-09-16). "Gasoline shortages, price hikes coming to East Coast after pipeline leak". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  2. ^ Posey, Melanie. "Colonial Pipeline: At least 42,000 gallons of gas leaked from line". wbrc.com. WBRC. Archived from the original on 2016-09-18. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  3. ^ "Worries lead to long gas lines in Nashville — again". Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  4. ^ Press, The Associated. "Alabama, Georgia governors lift driver rules after gas spill". Retrieved 2016-09-18.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Colonial announces construction of temporary pipeline". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  6. ^ "Helena – Colonial Pipeline Response". helena.colonialresponse.com. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  7. ^ "Alabama governor declares state of emergency over pipeline spill — but it's over shortage fears". 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  8. ^ TEGNA. "Gov. Deal declares state of emergency to keep fuel flowing after pipeline leak". Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  9. ^ Fragoso, Alejandro Dávila (2016-09-16). "Gasoline pipeline leaks 250,000 gallons, causing states of emergency in Alabama and Georgia". Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  10. ^ Sider, Alison (2016-09-17). "Federal Regulators Investigate Colonial Pipeline Leak". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  11. ^ "TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF MOTOR VEHICLE REGULATIONS TO ENSURE ADEQUATE FUEL SUPPLIES AND PROHIBIT EXCESSIVE PRICING | State of North Carolina: Governor Pat McCrory". governor.nc.gov. Archived from the original on 2016-09-17. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  12. ^ "Virginia North Carolina Declare State of Emergency Over Gas Shortages". WTKR. CNN Wire. September 20, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016.