Colonial pipeline explosion in Alabama killed one worker, injured five
Gasoline prices at the pump in some southeastern U.S. states inched up on Wednesday, two days after the fatal Colonial pipeline explosion in Alabama shut down the company’s main gasoline line, crucial to fuel supplies on the East Coast.
Monday’s blast, which killed one worker and injured five others, occurred several miles from Colonial’s biggest gasoline spill in nearly two decades in September. The spill caused a 12-day interruption in the flow of about 1.3 million barrels per day of the fuel from a refining hub on the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.
Colonial said on Tuesday it aimed to reopen the vital supply artery by Saturday, but said the timetable may change as it gets updated information from the site of the accident.
Retail gas prices in Georgia, one of the worst-hit states during September’s outage, climbed about 3 cents to $2.19 a gallon on Wednesday, according to motorist advocacy group AAA.
Prices in North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina also ticked higher.
Gasoline futures, meanwhile, were down 1.3 per cent on Wednesday after jumping as much as 15 per cent on Tuesday to their highest since early June.
The spill two months ago led to long gasoline lines and squeezed supply in inland states without access to alternative supplies via ship.
The cause of the Colonial September spill has not been made public. The nine-member crew was working on repairs related to September’s leak when the line was struck with an excavator, setting off the explosion, according to Colonial officials.
Markets on the East Coast are slightly better positioned due to access to ports. By noon on Tuesday, some 14 ships had been provisionally booked to sail from Europe to the region, more than quadrupling shipping costs, traders and ship brokers said.
The Colonial pipeline explosion comes amid opposition to pipeline construction from environmental groups and locals, including Native American groups. The groups are protesting the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the government is examining ways to reroute it to address concerns raised by Native American tribes.
(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)