The ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline last week is already having an impact on behavior with lots of evidence of panic buying in several states. And yet, for some reason, the NY Times put out a tweet this morning specifically claiming there have been “no long lines or major price hikes for gas.”
Colonial Pipeline, a vital U.S. fuel artery that was shut down by a cyberattack, said it hoped to restore most operations by the end of the week. Since the shutdown, there have been no long lines or major price hikes for gas.
Here’s what to know. https://t.co/kX58tBAd78
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 11, 2021
To be fair to the Times, this story was published yesterday and so maybe at the time it was written this paragraph was true?
Since the pipeline shutdown, there have been no long lines at gasoline stations, and because many traders expected the interruption to be brief, the market reaction was muted. Nationwide, the price of regular gasoline climbed by only half a cent to $2.97 on Monday from Sunday, even though the company could not set a timetable for restarting the pipeline. New York State prices remained stable at $3 a gallon, according to the AAA motor club.
Except it definitely wasn’t true even yesterday according to this story from CNN. There was a huge surge in buying yesterday.
US gasoline demand jumped 20% on Monday compared with the prior week, according to GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand.
In just five states served by Colonial Pipeline — Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia — demand was up by a collective 40.1%, GasBuddy said.
You can’t have a 40% surge in demand without some long lines. And that’s what many local news outlets were reporting last night.
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Dozens of gas stations in the area ran out of regular gasoline Monday.
Long lines at the gas pumps is normally something we’re used to seeing during hurricane season.
“It’s been crazy,” Danielle Charles said. “This is worse than a hurricane.”
Here’s some video from Pensacola published yesterday.
Extremely high demand for those who have gas today.
— Olivia Iverson (@OliviaIversonTV) May 10, 2021
This is from a reporter in Asheville, North Carolina (note this is also from yesterday afternoon):
— Caitlyn Penter (@CaitlynWLOS) May 10, 2021
And here’s an update from Asheville this morning.
— Martin Brossman (@martinbrossman) May 11, 2021
From South Carolina last night, some stations were already out.
This is crazy. I stopped for gas just now having no idea what was happening. It’s out. People here told me they’d been to other stations and found the same. pic.twitter.com/7LDVdUXPo4
— Greg Suskin (@GSuskinWSOC9) May 11, 2021
A newspaper in Tallahassee described “gas hysteria” and long lines.
Gas hysteria hits Tallahassee as long lines form, stations run out https://t.co/9bwSWPHT7k
— Tallahassee Democrat (@TDOnline) May 11, 2021
A photojournalist who works for that paper filmed this very long line for Costco gas.
I’ve visited five gas stations this morning and the Costco one is the first to have gas.
The line is insane. pic.twitter.com/fMfuIMNlJ7
— Alicia Devine, Photojournalist (@alicia_c_devine) May 11, 2021
This video comes from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (This one was posted yesterday evening).
Gas lines in N Myrtle Beach, most stations are out of gas. Is this our new America? pic.twitter.com/UOs0luLn22
— Kim S (@KSS141) May 11, 2021
There are long lines in Raleigh, North Carolina as well. This reporter also notes the prices have jumped.
Long lines at a gas station in Raleigh as #gasshortage concerns linger following ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline. @AAAnews reports regular gas prices in NC up 10 cents over past week, 5 cents since yesterday. @ABC11_WTVD pic.twitter.com/aC69IOSRPg
— Michael Perchick (@MichaelPerchick) May 11, 2021
One more from Greenville, South Carolina.
— Caroline Bowyer (@cbowyertv) May 11, 2021
It’s fair to say that these lines appear to be based on panic buying, just like the people who were hoarding toilet paper last spring. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are long lines in lots of places and we can probably expect those lines will continue until the pipeline is reopened sometime later this week or stations run out of gas.
All of this was clear yesterday afternoon so I’m not sure why a story which was updated this morning is still claiming there are no long lines or why the Times is pushing that out in a tweet today. One thing there is definitely no shortage of today is people telling the NY Times they are wrong.
Weird, I saw at least 20 cars lined up at the only gas station open in Asheville last night https://t.co/LM8eEQgEpa
— Katie Herzog (@kittypurrzog) May 11, 2021
This is not at all the truth. If you talk to almost anyone in North Carolina it’s crazy. And I’m not sure why this story isn’t a bigger deal in the media but it’s weird. https://t.co/KK4QqsSuk6
— Bridget Phetasy (@BridgetPhetasy) May 11, 2021
Don’t pull a muscle carrying all that water for Biden. https://t.co/jLHK27Gn3Y
— Amy Curtis (@RantyAmyCurtis) May 11, 2021
In what world have there been no long lines for gas? Because I wanna go there. https://t.co/uxtRznypW3
— TheMorningSpew2 (@TheMorningSpew2) May 11, 2021
Not sure you can improve on this response.
— Fusilli Spock (@awstar11) May 11, 2021
Anyway, it’s a pretty solid ratio as we speak, with 138 RTs vs 881 quote tweets pointing out they are wrong. The likes and responses are similar. But it looks like the Times isn’t going to correct that story. Instead, the same author has published a new one today which notes the high demand and long lines:
Gas stations in Georgia and other southeastern states were selling two to three times their normal amount of gasoline on Tuesday, according to the Oil Price Information Service, an organization that tracks the oil sector. Some stations are running out of fuel while others are limiting purchases to 10 gallons. “It is clear that a substantial slice of southeastern geography is seeing the panic behavior normally associated with hurricanes,” the organization said.
Again, why is the the NY Times putting out a tweet saying there are “no long lines” when the same author has a new story about stations running out of fuel. It’s just odd.