Harvey affects pipeline that carries most of Tennessee's gasoline, but no shortages expected

Harvey affects pipeline that carries most of Tennessee's gasoline, but no shortages expected

August 30th, 2017 by Tim Omarzu in Business Around the Region

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Tropical storm Harvey has put a hurt on the Colonial Pipeline, a massive, 5,500-mile-long system that delivers some 2.6 million barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to 11 states from Houston to New York — including a spur pipeline that feeds Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville.

"That is important, because that's basically where Tennessee and all of the East Coast gets its gas from," said AAA Tennessee spokeswoman Stephanie Milani.

But because the storm landed west of refineries that feed the Volunteer State, Harvey shouldn't cause shortages here, Milani said — or even much of a price spike at the pump.

"There's no need for panic right now," she said. "We do not suspect there will be gasoline outages."

The average price per gallon in Tennessee was $2.13 a week ago, and on Tuesday, it was $2.17, Milani said.

Hurricane Harvey

"We originally were predicting anywhere from a 10 to 30 percent increase," she said. "We're thinking a more accurate price increase is going to be between 5 and 20 cents."

That's typical for a large tropical storm, she said.

"Even when you have the threat of a hurricane in the Gulf, prices go up," Milani said.

Colonial Pipeline Co. said Tropical Storm Harvey affected its Houston origin, which includes Pasadena, Houston, and Cedar Bayou. Service from those locations was interrupted during the storm and its aftermath, although the company is working to restore service and minimize the impact.

Colonial Pipeline's mainline has a capacity for 2.5 million barrels a day. Plantation Pipeline, which can carry 700,000 barrels a day from Baton Rouge, La., to Washington, D.C., and is owned by energy infrastructure industry giant Kinder Morgan. The two pipelines provide about 47 percent of the East Coast's supply, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Tennessee gets about 300,000 barrels per day of transportation fuel from the two pipelines, the EIA says.

In Chattanooga, Kinder Morgan can store 220,000 barrels of petroleum product in 10 storage tanks at its fuel terminal at 4716 Bonny Oaks Drive., which is fed by both the Colonial and Plantation pipelines, its website says.

Pipelines are an efficient way to move fuel. Kinder Morgan says it costs about 3 cents to move a gallon of gasoline 1,000 miles via its Plantation Pipeline.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsFor Business or on Twitter @meetfor business or 423-757-6651.

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