The Colonial Pipeline runs from Texas to New York and supplies gasoline to an estimated 50 million people a day on the East Coast. On September 9, a 36-inch pipeline was shut down near Birmingham, Alabama where a major ‘leak’ was discovered.

The shutdown of Colonial Pipeline service to ‘Line 1’ which normally transports 1.3 million barrels of gasoline per day from refiners on the Gulf Coast to delivery locations in the Southeast and along the Eastern seaboard, may (likely) result in gasoline shortages.

The pipeline has been estimated to supply up to 40 percent of the gasoline on the east coast…


So far at least six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama – are reportedly all facing possible shortages due to the pipeline shutdown.

The mainstream media has hardly reported on this (a probable coordinated effort to keep it ‘hush hush’). Will the developing situation result in noticeable gasoline shortages?

I have currently found reports of ‘spotty’ shortages and some stations have indeed run out of gas, however it seems logical that the shortages will worsen – given the apparent dependence upon this one pipeline for such a large percentage of gasoline for so many people.

There is only a limited amount of excess storage within the system, and if the supply isn’t restored soon, it’s going to become a very noticeable ‘problem’ to say the least…

Attempts are being made to ship gasoline by alternate routes and methods. Some gas is being pushed through an alternate pipeline at the expense of other fuels (now alternating between diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil, and gasoline). More gasoline is now being ‘trucked’, and gasoline is even being shipped by tanker ship from Houston to New York.

However apparently these methods will not make up for the lost volume from the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline ‘Line 1’.

Colonial Pipeline does not know how much its customers have in reserve or whether they can access alternate sources to keep gas pumps operating, however Colonial expects the worst of the gasoline shortages to be felt in Tennessee, Georgia, parts of Alabama and the Carolinas.


The leak is located in the William R. Ireland Sr. Cahaba River Wildlife Management Area, near the intersection of Coalmont Road and Lindsey Road. It’s a relatively remote section of Shelby County, about 30 miles south of Birmingham.

This pipeline was evidently built in the 1960’s. There is much of our infrastructure that was built long ago and we are more dependent than ever on these systems – which are mostly all running on a ‘just in time’ transport and delivery method with little or no ‘excess’, storage, or ‘warehousing’. Therefore when these systems break there is an immediate impact.

I do not have expertise in the area of pipeline longevity. However one might logically ask the question “If this one section has burst, is it just the beginning of more to follow?”, and this goes well beyond just this one pipeline incident. Think of the rest of our infrastructure. How much money and effort has been dedicated to maintenance in order to assure longevity? Given the motivations of squeezing every last penny of profit, I doubt that there has been (or is) adequate appropriated monies.

Here’s another thought…
Given the reliance on this one pipeline for so much of the gasoline to the southeast and east coast, can you imagine if so called ‘terrorists’ were to target ‘choke points’ such as this? How many more choke points are out there? I suspect lots…

This incident serves as a perfect example of the systemic risks that go along with the dependence we have upon infrastructure. Most everyone is afflicted with a severe case of ‘normalcy bias’ which leads them to believe that all of our ‘consumables’ will always be available. As our infrastructure ages and as new threats emerge to our way of life, it may be wise and prudent to prepare for disruptions to our modern way of life – or worse…

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