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This Is Exactly When the Gas Shortage Will End, Expert Says

Need to fill up? It's estimated that gas will finally be flowing normally by this date.

The largest refined products pipeline in the U.S. announced it was resuming operations on May 12 after it shut down 5,500 miles of gas pipelines due to a ransomware hacking attack. Colonial Pipeline Co., which supplies about 45 percent of the fuel used on the East Coast, paused gas shipments after being hacked over the weekend—resulting in subsequent panic buying in more than 13 states along the coast. As people started hoarding fuel, stations began running out of gas. While Colonial Pipeline resuming operations will help bring things back to normal, the gas shortage won't disappear overnight—and it may last a lot longer than you'd hoped. Read on to find out exactly when one expert believes the gas shortage will finally end.

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A gas expert says the shortage will be over by Memorial Day.

Close up cropped shot of a gas station worker's hands with filling gun, ready to refueling the car with gas or petrol at a gas station

If you're expecting to easily find gas this weekend, you might have to reevaluate your plans: The pipeline resuming operations isn't going to immediately bring gas back. In fact, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told USA Today that he expects the gas shortage will loom until the end of the month. "I think that by Memorial Day or shortly after, that it won't be such a project to fill your tank back up," he predicted.

De Haan also noted that people will likely see gas outage numbers peak 48 hours from now as the pipeline resumes over the next couple of days. By Memorial Day, "you may occasionally find a station without fuel, but outages should be less than 20 percent by then in all areas," he tweeted on May 13.

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Panic buying is likely to prolong the shortage for weeks.

Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil. 29th May, 2018. People queue for fuel at a petrol station in São Paulo, on May 29 2018 on the nine day of a strike to protest rising fuel costs in Brazil. A truckers' strike paralyzing fuel and food deliveries across Brazil entered an eighth day Monday but with hopes of relief after unpopular President Michel Temer caved in to the strikers' key demand

According to De Haan, much of the ongoing shortage will be caused by humans continuing to hoard whatever fuel they can find—especially if they are not aware the pipeline has resumed operations. "A lot of people aren't going to hear about this very quickly," De Haan said. "People have jobs, they're out and about—behavior won't necessarily immediately change."

This will not only lead to shortages continuing later this week, De Haan said, but the situation may also get worse when the weekend demand hits. "People are filling up at a breakneck pace. There's just no way that stations can stay anywhere near caught up," he explained.

Colonial Co. also said it would take days for the supply to return to normal.

MIAMI, USA, SEPTEMBER 07 2017: Gas pump depleted. Hurricane Irma storm Florida caused shortage of gasoline at the stations. Fuel station is out of service due to lack of fuel.

Of course, panic buying isn't the only reason the gas shortage could last until the end of the month. Colonial Pipeline Co. said in a statement that "it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal," even after they announced they were resuming operations. Susan Grisson, chief industry analyst at American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, told USA Today that this kind of disruption in the supply chain requires a strategy on how to continue operations.

"It takes time to regroup massive quantities of product and efficiently make deliveries to more remote areas that are supplied by the Colonial; figuring out the time and logistics takes some time," she said.

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Some states are suffering worse gas shortages than others.

Florida, USA - Circa 2021: A gas station sign says "Out" because its tanks are empty. Amid the Colonial Pipeline Co. cyber attack and shutdown, the U.S. faces gasoline shortages and high gas prices.

Some states on the East Coast have been hit harder by this shortage than others. According to data from GasBuddy on May 13, North Carolina has been leading the pack with the most stations out of fuel at 71 percent. Following close behind is Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, where 55 percent, 54 percent, and 49 percent of stations are out of fuel, respectively. Fortunately, De Haan said on Twitter that he is "optimistic the situation will resolve quickly," but he did add that "motorists could help the situation by holding off for a day or two to let stations refuel faster."

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Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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