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Virginia gas stations see fewer outages, experts say things are improving

Posted at 12:38 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 12:38:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia’s gas supply is slowly improving after Colonial Pipeline's system breach led to outages across the East Coast last week.

Navigation app GasBuddy reports 31% of Virginia gas stations were still without fuel as of 11 a.m. on Monday.

Some drivers were surprised to be able to fill up their tanks Monday morning at gas stations they thought would be out of fuel.

“It seems like people are still kind of lining up when they see people pumping gas," said Richmonder Sheryl Baumgardner.

Baumgardner visited the Shell station on Patterson Avenue in Richmond, which was marked without fuel on GasBuddy, but drivers were able to fill up.

A station employee told CBS 6 a tanker truck refilled their supply Sunday morning.

“I think it’s hit or miss," Baumgardner explained.

CBS 6 also drove to seven other Richmond gas stations that were reported without fuel on Gas Buddy, but drivers were getting gas at those stations as well.

Head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, Patrick De Haan, said the app relies solely on volunteers going to the stations and updating their status.

"This is unfortunately not a perfect situation where the stations are telling us directly," De Haan noted. "Not everyone is going to every station every hour hour of the day. So, we do see some stations, where the reports may be a couple of hours old. And keep in mind that these tankers are moving 24 hours a day, so it's hard to keep up."

De Haan said his team has never seen outages as severe as Virginia saw last week, and he believes tanker trucks are likely headed to refill the most populated areas first.

“I'm sure the rural areas are hit hard as well," he explained. "But I think the priority here is on the largest areas where that shipment of gasoline can be the most effective.”

If you’re headed to the pumps, you may notice some are still out of midgrade and premium gas.

“I think right now, in the interest of being the most effective, stations are simply targeting 87 octane in high population areas," said De Haan.

Experts encourage drivers to pack some patience, and know that tanker trucks are working hard to get gas to your station.

“Think of those truck drivers, thank them and get out of their way and let them do what they need to do," noted De Haan.

GasBuddy experts note Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday tend to be the least busy days of the week to get gas. They predict Virginia’s outages will be under 20% by Memorial Day weekend.

According to AAA, gas prices are starting to stabilize again after the outages.

Virginia's gas price average is now $2.94, which is up 18 cents from a week ago in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.