Gas shortage reaches Darlington County
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
The Circle K convenience store/gas station at 1001 S. Governor Williams Highway is one of the biggest gasoline sellers in the Darlington area. But by last Wednesday afternoon, its long lines of pumps wore yellow plastic bags – out of service. That was one example of how a cyberattack on a huge gas pipeline that services the Southeastern United States triggered problems for millions of drivers, as many raced to buy gas before it ran out or found that their local pumps were already dry. The 5,500-mile pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline, was knocked out for six days by the malware attack, but went back into service last Wednesday. The federal government was optimistic that “things (would) return to normal” by Monday. However, GasBuddy, an Internet platform that monitors the fuel industry and that has been widely quoted during the shortage, was gloomier. Its spokesman, Patrick De Haan, said last week that the Carolinas face seven to 14 days of problems. “The situation will definitely take time and slowly improve due to a high number of outages and higher number of stations to refuel,” he said. As of last week, GasBuddy estimated, about half of all the gas pumps in South Carolina were dry. In North Carolina, the estimate was 74 percent. In Darlington County, problems seemed to be sporadic most of last week, with different convenience-store chains in different situations. For most of the week, convenience stores seemed to be keeping up with higher demand; later in the week, gas got harder to find. At Darlington’s Circle K, an employee said, tanks ran dry sometime Tuesday, and no one knew for sure, as of last week, when more fuel might be delivered. The Circle K employee said people had been driving in, hoping to find gas, but not getting angry when they realized there was none.