WASHINGTON - Gas prices in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia rose Thursday as panic continued to create fuel shortages at gas stations in parts of the region in reaction to a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline last week by Russian ransomware group DarkSide.
AAA Mid-Atlantic reported a national average of $3.02 Thursday -- its highest prices since 2014. AAA reported average prices in D.C at $3.12, in Maryland at $3.01 and in Virginia at $2.91.
According to a breakdown online by GasBuddy.com, 47 percent of gas stations in D.C., 55 percent of gas stations in Virginia and 34 percent of gas stations in Maryland are currently experiencing fuel outages.
AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend called for an end to panic buying saying it was uncalled for. "What you see is that the more people that panic buy – the worse the situation becomes. You’re making a bad situation worse by doing that."
The incident began Wednesday when a group of Russian hackers hit the Atlanta-based Colonial Pipeline. Colonial reports that some capacity has been restored and they hope the entire the 5500-mile source of fuel that runs from Texas to New Jersey will be largely operational sometime later this week.
"We have to resist the consumer impulse, the human impulse to rush out and buy gasoline especially if it's not warranted or you have at least a half tank of gas," Townsend said. "If you have a half tank of gas - and the way we are driving now in the pandemic levels – you will not need gas probably another week or so."
Townsend said topping off tanks is unnecessary and exasperates the situation.
"There will be plenty of gas around. In fact, there is plenty of gas now," Townsend said. "We can make it through this crisis with cooler heads and by staying calm and by avoiding panic buying."
Townsend said the effects of the gas shortage could last about a week. "This became a crisis of confidence in the system because people were shell-shocked by the hack into the Colonial Pipeline which should never have happened in the first place." Townsend added that only about 45 percent of the gasoline on the East Coast is supplied by the Colonial Pipeline. He said the other 55 percent comes from the Plantation Pipeline which runs approximately 3,000 miles from Louisiana before terminating near Washington, D.C.