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Cost of gas in U.S. rises to highest level in 6 years due to pipeline attack

By
Don Johnson
Drivers line up at a Shell gas station in Arlington, Va., last Thursday to buy fuel amid gasoline shortages created by a disruption of the Colonial Pipeline. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
Drivers line up at a Shell gas station in Arlington, Va., last Thursday to buy fuel amid gasoline shortages created by a disruption of the Colonial Pipeline. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

May 18 (UPI) -- The average price for gasoline in the United States has risen to the highest level in years and is well over $3 per gallon.

As of Tuesday, the national average is $3.04 per gallon -- the highest average in six years.

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AAA says the cyberattack that disrupted the Colonial Pipeline last week has been a significant factor in the rise. The pipeline, which carries gasoline from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, resumed operating last weekend.

The disruption created limited supplies of gasoline in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, AAA noted, and prices in those states climbed as much as 21 cents per gallon last week.

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Over the past week, the national average increased 8 cents.

With the pipeline returning to normal operation, gas prices in the southeastern states and the nation have stabilized, AAA said.

"The Southeast will continue to experience tight supply this week as terminals and gas stations are refueled," AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee said in a statement.

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"Over the weekend, gas prices started to stabilize, but are expected to fluctuate in the lead up to Memorial Day weekend."

AAA says more than 30 million Americans are expected to travel for Memorial Day weekend, from May 27-31 -- a 52% increase compared to last year.

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"This is going to be an expensive summer for motorists," McGee added. "However, we do not expect it to deter travelers from hitting the road.

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"Despite the higher pump prices, Americans still take their road trips, but just may not travel as far as originally planned, or go to their planned destination and spend a little less."

AAA says crude oil prices and gasoline demand will be the greatest factors in how far gas prices will climb.

Virginia and Tennessee have seen the greatest increases over the past week (18 cents), followed by Alabama (17 cents), Maryland (16 cents), Mississippi (12 cents), West Virginia (10 cents) and Texas (10 cents).

As of Tuesday, California has the most expensive gas in the United States, at $4.14 per gallon, followed by Hawaii, Nevada and Washington state. Louisiana, $2.72 per gallon, has the nation's least expensive gas, followed by Mississippi, Texas and Missouri.

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