Signs reading "out of gas" cover screens on pumps at a gas station on May 12, 2021 near Four Oaks, North Carolina.
  • Stations continued to experience petrol shortages Wednesday following the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.
  • Petrol prices passed $3 per gallon as panic buying led to surging demand in the eastern US.
  • The pipeline restarted operations Wednesday, but it may take days for the supply chain to stabilise.
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Petrol shortages across the eastern US continued to spike Wednesday after a ransomware attack knocked out the pipeline that supplies nearly half of the region's gasoline this past weekend.

Colonial Pipeline's ongoing shutdown has roiled fuel markets and disrupted supply to the East Coast, causing gasoline prices to jump in several places across the country. A surge in panic buying among nervous consumers has led to widespread shortages as operators work to transport fuel supplies amid Colonial's halted operations.

Colonial announced operations on the pipeline had restarted around 5:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, but said it will still take "several days" for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.

More than 10,000 petrol stations in eastern US had completely run out of petrol on Wednesday, according to GasBuddy.

Out of order notes are left on gasoline pumps to let motorists know the pumps are empty at a Shell gas station in Woodbridge, Virginia on May 12, 2021.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the worst-hit states were North Carolina, where 65% of stations were out of petrol; Virginia, where 44% of stations were dry; and Georgia, with 43% of stations out of fuel, according to the app GasBuddy.

Metropolitan areas in the region have also been hit hard by shortages, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Norfolk. 

Petrol prices surged past $3 for the first time since 2014 on Wednesday.

Motorists line up at an Exxon station selling gas at $3.29 per gallon soon after it's fuel supply was replenished in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 12, 2021.

The average price for a gallon of gas was sitting at $3.008, according to automotive group AAA, while a gallon of premium now costs $3.597.

Multiple states have declared emergencies and attempted to relax petrol transport rules as a result.

Store Manager Krishna directs traffic at one of the few stations remaining open at a 7 Eleven station in Woodbridge, Virginia on May 12, 2021.

Governors in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, had all declared states of emergency as of Wednesday 

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida's gasoline supply is mostly unaffected by the hack, but an uptick in panic buying has led to local shortages, especially in North Florida.

Earlier this week, the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a regional emergency declaration for 17 states and Washington, DC. The declaration covers Alabama, Arkansas, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. 

Fear and misinformation has led to panic buying and stockpiling.

A woman fills gas cans at a Speedway gas station on May 12, 2021 in Benson, North Carolina.

Experts told The Washington Post that attempts by people to "stock up" on fuel is a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Nervous drivers have run thousands of gas stations dry as demand has soared more than 40 percent in some of the hardest-hit states. 

"This is reminiscent of how supermarkets were running short on toilet paper, etc. in the earliest days of the Covid pandemic in the spring of 2020 — same underlying issue of consumer psychology," Pavel Molchanov, an energy analyst at Raymond James told the outlet.

Some drivers have turned to *unique* storage methods as they stock up on petrol.

A man fills up a gas tank as cars line up at a QuickTrip on May 11, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Social media was ablaze with photos and videos of nervous drivers filling up their cars...and other things.

From trash bags to giant barrels, many people decided to fill up as much as possible.

The Biden administration urged Americans not to stockpile gas.

Motorists fill up gas cans at a Shell station in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 12, 2021.

"We are asking people not to hoard," US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters at the White House. "Things will be back to normal soon."

But lines of vehicles wrapped around street corners as demand remained high Wednesday afternoon.

Cars line up to fill their gas tanks at a COSTCO at Tyvola Road in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 11, 2021.

The pipeline resumed operations Wednesday evening, its operators said, but it will take "several days" for the supply chain to stabilise.

Signs reading "out of gas" cover screens on pumps at a gas station on May 12, 2021 near Four Oaks, North Carolina.

In a media release Wednesday evening, Colonial said operations had resumed on the pipeline around 5:00 p.m. ET. 

The release said it will take "several days" for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal and some markets served by the pipeline may continue to experience service interruptions.

Colonial operates 8,850 kilometres of a pipeline from Texas to New York and transports nearly half of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, moving more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and home heating oil, every day.

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