UPDATE: 45% of metro Atlanta gas stations still without fuel

Gas tankers filled up and gasoline flowed at the Chevron Doraville Terminal at 4026 Winters Chapel in DeKalb County on Friday, May 14, 2021. (John Spink/John Spink@ajc.com)
Gas tankers filled up and gasoline flowed at the Chevron Doraville Terminal at 4026 Winters Chapel in DeKalb County on Friday, May 14, 2021. (John Spink/John Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Metro Atlanta’s gas shortage continued into Wednesday afternoon, with 45% of stations lacking fuel, according to GasBuddy.com.

Supply has been gradually improving since last Thursday, when 73% of gas stations in the metro area were without fuel after the May 7 shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, according to GasBuddy spokeswoman Allison Mac.

It was also a little better than noon Tuesday, when an estimated 51% didn’t have gas.

The pipeline’s operations restarted a week ago, but “it’ll probably take another week for things to return back to normal,” said Mac. That’s partly because “the gas supply was so depleted by the time it was operating again, mainly because of panic and anxiety from people filling up more than they have to.”

GasBuddy.com lists gas availability and prices based on crowd-sourced entries by drivers.

AAA said the average gas price in Georgia was $2.95 a gallon on Wednesday, on par with the price on Tuesday and a week ago. “It’s been holding steady for about a week,” said AAA spokeswoman Montrae Waiters. Prices rose sharply in the immediate wake of the shutdown.

Trishna Roy, who lives in Duluth, canceled doctor appointments near Emory University last week to avoid using up her fuel. “I have a one-year-old, and I didn’t want to be stranded,” Roy said.

But Roy said she has not had problems finding gas since late last week, especially during a trip to Florida, where she “was able to really fill up.... They had gas everywhere.”

Roy and other motorists were tanking up at a QT in Duluth on Wednesday afternoon, near four other gas stations that were out of gas at the Pleasant Hill exit on I-85.

The good news is that gas demand nationally has declined 7% from last week, an indication that people’s gas tanks are full and they’re not filling up again, Mac said.

One looming issue is Memorial Day coming up at the end of the month, traditionally a popular weekend for road trips. AAA forecast that more than 1.1 million people in Georgia would take a trip during the holiday weekend.

Gas was easier to find outside metro Atlanta. In the Augusta area, 33% of stations were without fuel Wednesday, and 17% in Macon, Mac said. South Carolina had 38% without fuel, while Florida had 14% of stations out of gas.

Skyler Williams, who lives in the Camp Creek area and is a supervisor for a commercial pool business, said it’s easier to find gas when he’s working on the northside of the metro area.

He said it seems that “where I live in the southside, there’s more of a shortage.... There’s more a shortage of everything on the southside — food, resources. I just think it’s probably the property values.”

Large players like Costco, Sam’s Club and Kroger have contracts for wholesale fuel. Many other gas stations are small businesses owned by a family, and securing fuel supply amid a shortage “depends on their relationship and their contract with the refineries,” according to Mac.

Daniel Rivoli, who drives for food delivery service DoorDash, said he uses “quite a bit of gas,” and has a strategy of seeking out bigger gas stations like QT and Ingles.

“At the smaller gas stations like Shell and Valero, it’s been a struggle,” Rivoli said.

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