While some gas stations in the Southern U.S. have temporarily closed and pump prices are rising on the East Coast, there’s only one report of a Davenport-area convenience store running out of gas, though prices are climbing in many Iowa cities.
Meredith Mitts, spokeswoman for AAA Iowa, says the state’s gasoline supply is secure in the wake of last week’s cyberattack on a pipeline’s computers. “Colonial Pipeline is working very hard to have the operation restored by the end of this week,” Mitts says. “Hopefully, what’s happening with those gas price surges and those shutdowns is going to be a very temporary thing and not reach us at all in the Midwest.”
The Russian ransomware group Darkside is reportedly responsible for the disruption of the pipeline providing fuel for much of the Southern and Eastern U.S. Mitts says it’s difficult to predict any ripple effects as a result of the cyberattack.
“Unfortunately, the situation is very fluid,” Mitts says. “With the gas shortage, it’s going to vary by region and we don’t yet know what the full impact is happening in the Midwest and in Iowa.” Gas prices nationwide are averaging $3 a gallon, while in Iowa, the statewide average is $2.89, which is up almost a dime a gallon in the past week. A year ago, the average Iowa price was more than a buck cheaper, at a $1.71.
Mitts says demand for gas is starting to rise in Iowa as we approach the warmer weather months. “People are more comfortable traveling,” Mitts says. “We are seeing a 60% jump from last year, but that’s still 14% below our pre-pandemic levels. As we get closer to normal, we aren’t quite back to what we were before the pandemic.”
The unofficial start of summer is coming in a few weeks with Memorial Day weekend, which Mitts says should mean a significant uptick in traffic.
(Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City contributed to this report.)