Colonial Pipeline Moves to Restart After Ida

EPA waives gasoline RVP summer blending rules for Louisiana and Mississippi in wake of Ida.

August 31, 2021

Gasoline Refinery

ALPHARETTA, Ga.—Colonial Pipeline yesterday evening tweeted that it expected to restart two lines it temporarily took down as a precautionary measure ahead of Hurricane Ida, which swept through Louisiana Sunday and Monday.

“We’re doing some safety assessments and infrastructure checks right now. Lines 1 & 2 should be operating safety later tonight!” Colonial Pipeline said in a tweet.

Separately, the Environmental Protection Agency last night issued a waiver for the Reid vapor pressure requirements to sell summer-blend low-volatility gasoline in Louisiana and Mississippi. The waiver took effect yesterday and ends September 16, 2021.

Under the temporary waiver, “regulated parties may produce, sell and distribute winter gasoline in Louisiana and Mississippi with a Reid vapor pressure of no more than 11.5 psi after the addition of ethanol,” EPA said. 

Colonial Pipeline is North America’s biggest pipeline, running some 5,500 miles from the Gulf Coast to Linden, N.J. In May, a cyberattack forced Colonial Pipeline to take its pipeline offline for nearly a week. The pipeline supplies the U.S. South and East Coast with refined products.

On Sunday, Colonial Pipeline temporarily shut down its Lines 1 and 2 systems from Houston to Greensboro, North Carolina. Colonial's Lines 3 and 4 from North Carolina to New Jersey never ceased operations.

Colonial Pipeline expected minimal disruption to operations due to the shutdown since terminals were already stocked with supply along the pipeline, a company spokesman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Colonial Pipeline spokesman Eric Abercrombie stressed that “fuel supply continues to be available throughout the Southeast,” the newspaper reports.

Later, in a press statement, Wes Dunbar, vice president of operations for Colonial Pipeline, said, “We want to express our sympathy and concern for the many people who have suffered tremendously because of this hurricane. ​I also want to thank those who are helping get Colonial back in service as quickly and safely as possible. We know the fuels delivered by our pipeline are important to emergency responders, as well as to our daily lives. We are thankful for the coordination from our local, state and federal partners for their assistance as we work to restore our pipeline into service.”

The closures had threatened to stress already tight regional gasoline stocks, which stood nearly 13% behind the five-year average in the week ended Aug. 20, reports

U.S. gasoline was up more than 1.5% yesterday, lending support to crude oil, Reuters reported. Power outages added to refinery closures along the Gulf, and traders weighed the possibility of prolonged disruptions.

"It's still early days," said Vivek Dhar, analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. "Oil products, like gasoline and diesel, are likely to see prices rise more acutely from refinery outages, especially if there are difficulties in bringing refineries and pipelines back online."

The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that Ida made landfall Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane and then inland, weakening to a tropical storm, as reported in the NACS Daily.

Don’t forget to register to attend the 2021 NACS Show October 5-8 at McCormick Place in Chicago and take advantage of the education sessions on withstanding natural disasters and supporting communities, including the sessions Building Customer Loyalty Through Employee Culture & Engagement on October 5, Stronger Together: The Business Case for DEI on October 5 and Protecting Profits Through Loss Prevention on October 7.