Majority of Stations in Charlotte, North Carolina's Biggest City, Have Run Out of Gas

Up to 71 percent of stations in Charlotte, North Carolina, have run out of gasoline after a cyberattack shut down the Colonial Pipeline last week and halted operations at the nation's largest fuel pipeline.

The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45 percent of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit by a ransomware attack last Friday. The attack has since resulted in shortages and inflated gas prices as consumers rushed to buy fuel across Southeastern states including North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Florida.

On Tuesday, the governors of each state declared a state of emergency as motorists flocked to the pumps and waited in long lines to stock up. While the cyberattack created an initial halt in supply, governors and White House officials have said consumer hoarding, and not an actual shortage, is causing major problems at stations.

By Wednesday morning, the great majority of stations in North Carolina's biggest metro area had run dry, according to reports from GasBuddy.com.

71% of gas stations in the Charlotte area have run out of gas, per @GasBuddyGuy. #WakeUpCLT pic.twitter.com/amqmFnbF8V

— Ben Thompson (@Bentnews) May 12, 2021

Areas outside of Charlotte have run out of gasoline as well, according to the app. In some cases, up to 78 percent of stations are now without fuel in North Carolina, Patrick De Haan, an analyst with GasBuddy.com, reported.

On Tuesday, De Haan tweeted that 16 percent of North Carolina's total gas stations had run out by the evening. In total, almost 1,800 gas stations, from Maryland to Florida, were out of fuel late Tuesday.

North Carolina update:
78% of Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville/Anderson stns no gasoline
72% of Raleigh/Durham stns no gasoline
71% of Charlotte stns no gasoline
69% of Greenville/New Bern/Washington stns no gasoline
65% of Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport stns no gasoline

— Patrick De Haan ⛽️📊 (@GasBuddyGuy) May 12, 2021

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper on Tuesday urged consumers to report price gouging and avoid unnecessarily rushing to stations to fill up tanks.

"I have talked today with federal officials including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and we have a full court press to get the Colonial Pipeline back up and fully operating quickly. Report price gouging and please don't rush to top off your tanks," Cooper tweeted.

I have talked today with federal officials including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and we have a full court press to get the Colonial Pipeline back up and fully operating quickly. Report price gouging and please don’t rush to top off your tanks. – RC

— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) May 11, 2021

In addition to declaring a state of emergency in North Carolina, Cooper moved to temporarily suspend motor vehicle fuel regulations to ensure adequate fuel supply supplies throughout the state, WBTV reported.

On Monday, one of Colonial's major lines resumed operations manually, and the company expects to substantially restore operations by the week's end, Granholm said during a White House briefing Tuesday.

However, she said it will take a few days to get the pipeline fully operational and urged consumers to avoid panic buying.

"Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic," Granholm said, "there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline, especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend."

She added, "It's not that we have a gasoline shortage. It's that we have this supply crunch and that things will be back to normal soon, and that we're asking people not to hoard."

Charlotte gas shortage
An "Out of Service" bag covers a gas pump as cars line up to fill their tanks at a Circle K near uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 11. Logan Cyrus/ AFP/Getty Images

The FBI on Monday blamed a criminal syndicate, DarkSide, on the cyberattack against the pipeline. DarkSide is a relatively new group that, since August 2020, has used ransomware cyberattacks to hack various companies in the U.S. and Europe.

On Monday, President Joe Biden told reporters that while there is "no evidence" that Russia was behind the pipeline cyberattack, there is evidence that the actors' ransomware is in Russia.

"They have some responsibility to deal with this," said Biden, who added that he plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Residents across North Carolina expressed disappointment about the gas situation on Tuesday and said it was looking "really rough" as stations continue to report shortages. "We have all the security experts in the world in the United States, and we can't stop a hack," Steve Berzon told WBTV.

Newsweek contacted Cooper for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.