Gas Flowing 5 MPH Will Take Two Weeks to Reach New York Once Pipeline Is Reopened

Once Colonial Pipeline’s sprawling system is back in full operation, it will take nearly 15 days to move gasoline sitting in the Houston refining hub to the fuel-starved U.S. East Coast.

Transit times for gasoline to pass through Colonial’s network of pipelines that allow oil products to flow from the U.S. Gulf Coast, up to its North Carolina hub, and then on to New York Harbor, is 14 days and 16 hours, at a speed of about 5 miles per hour, according to the most recent schedule sent to shippers. Diesel and jet fuel, heavier and more dense products, need about 19 days to make the same trip that spans about 1,600 miles through the busiest pipeline system in America.

The timing estimates point to the challenges that lie ahead for shippers on Colonial’s system — including the nation’s largest oil companies — to replenish markets from Louisiana to Virginia and the New York and New Jersey area with fuel after a cyberattack on Friday shuttered operations. Gas stations have already run dry as motorists rush to fill tanks, with one Washington, D.C.-area fuel distributor warning that “catastrophic” shortages are looming. Without the Colonial system, many cities and airports are forced to seek alternative supplies.

Colonial’s pipeline system is made up of several key arteries. Gasoline moves on Line 1 from Houston to Greensboro, North Carolina, while other fuels travel on Line 2. Together, they can carry about 2.5 million barrels a day. From North Carolina, a line with room for about 900,000 barrels a day of fuel serves New York Harbor, where millions of drivers can access supply, as well as key airports, such as John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International.

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