Maine is in a good position to keep vehicle fuel flowing because its energy supply comes from Canada and Europe, not from the Colonial Pipeline that was shut down by a cyberattack Friday and restarted Wednesday.
“The temporary disruption of the Colonial Pipeline should not have any effect in Maine,” Charlie Summers, president of the 300-member Maine Energy Marketers Association in Brunswick, said.
Maine’s fuel comes through a pipeline running from Montreal to South Portland and in tanker ships from various European countries, he said. South Portland also has a farm of fuel tanks.
The Colonial Pipeline, which runs 5,500 miles from Texas to New York and is one of the longest fuel pipelines in the U.S., was shut last week after a cyberattack by Russian ransomware group DarkSide, creating shortages in the southeast U.S., where about 1,000 gas stations ran out of fuel, according to the Associated Press.
The shutdown has caused panic-buying, long gas station lines and even fights at gas stations in the southeast U.S. The Georgia-based company that runs the pipelines said that it “initiated the restart of pipeline operations” at 5 p.m. Wednesday, and that it will take several days for the delivery supply chain to return to normal. Meantime, some markets may experience intermittent service interruptions.
Summers said it is important to have a broad-based energy supply and not rely on a single source. He said motorists who drive beyond Maine should be aware of the states where there are shortages.
The shortages in the southeast are a temporary logistical issue and not a supply issue in the U.S., so motorists shouldn’t panic-buy gas here, AAA Northern New England spokesperson Pat Moody said.
“You should not run out and fill up and be concerned that you’re not going to be able to buy gas in Maine tomorrow,” Moody said.
Moody said the gas price increases in New England over the past month resulted from an improving economy coming through the pandemic. The current average for self-serve regular gas is $2.95 per gallon, up from $2.80 one month ago. That’s up from $1.85 a year ago, when fewer people were traveling in the early stages of the pandemic.
Gov. Janet Mills’ energy office is closely tracking the situation and doesn’t expect any supply issues in Maine, Dan Burgess, its director, said.
“We are monitoring for secondary effects, such as on gasoline prices or the supply of other fuels, if the interruption of service is prolonged,” he said.