Pipeline Shutdown Won’t Crank Prices in Wyoming

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming drivers will likely not feel the pinch at the pump that has hit many drivers throughout the eastern and southern United States following a weekend ransomware attack on the country’s largest gasoline pipeline.  

The Houston-based Colonial Pipeline, which supplies more than 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast, transports fuel from Texas to New York. When the company closed 5,500 miles of the pipeline following the attack as a precautionary measure, it affected 17 states, including the nation’s capital.

The shutdown led to a spike of up to 6 cents per gallon, bringing the national average price of gas to just under $3 per gallon this week, according to the AAA. The price is just 3 cents per gallon shy of the record fuel prices set in November 2014.

However, in Wyoming, most prices climbed by only 3 cents per gallon in the last week to average almost $2.98 per gallon.

Mark Larson, of the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association, said Wyoming is in a good position to weather the impacts of the pipeline shutdown because it is home to four refineries and is a hub for a number of pipelines.

The larger concern for Larson is the cyberattack itself, which he said is the first such attack he’s seen in his 40 years in the industry.

“This is new normal type stuff that we haven’t seen before,” he said. “Infrastructure and cyberattacks have been on the forefront of national security for some time now,  but I was surprised that a pipeline could be impacted.”

Larson and Aldo Vazquez, a spokesman for AAA Mountain West, agreed that the upcoming Memorial Day holiday will have a larger impact on Wyoming’s gas prices.

With 90% of travelers on the weekend expected to drive to their destinations, the increased demand for gasoline will probably force prices up by about 2 cents per gallon, Vazquez said.

“Before the pipeline, AAA predicted that gas prices would increase regionally as summer travel gets underway,” he said.

As of Tuesday, gas prices throughout Wyoming averaged $2.98 per gallon with the cheapest prices at Maverik and Conoco in Newcastle at $2.44 and $2.49 per gallon, respectively, and $2.54 per gallon at a Maverik in Cheyenne.

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