After Successful Test of Repaired Gas Pipeline Fuel Could Be Moving Wednesday

The bypass that has been set up to help get North Carolina running on a full tank of gas has now been tested.

Helena’s Colonial Pipeline leak in Alabama has limited the fuel supply to the Tar Heel state and its neighbors in the southeast over the past few days, which has caused long lines at gas stations that actually have fuel.

Helena issued an update on Wednesday saying that a 500-foot bypass segment had been constructed and positioned to allow for testing to confirm its structural integrity. The company says those tests were successfully completed on Wednesday morning.

Officials are projecting Helena will resume operation Wednesday evening.

But that doesn’t mean there will be immediate relief for North Carolinians. Helena says once operations are restarted, it is expected to take “several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal.”

WCHL/Chapelboro is continuing to monitor gas supplies locally.

McCrory: Could Take ‘Several Days’ for Normal Gas Supply in North Carolina

Governor Pat McCrory held a press conference this morning to address the gas shortage in North Carolina. McCrory announced that the construction and positioning of the repair on the leak of the Continental pipeline in Alabama has been complete as of this morning.

McCrory said once construction is successfully complete, preparations for a restart of the main fuel line will begin. Continental officials estimate completion sometime tomorrow morning.

“However it will still take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal,” Mc Crory said.

Due to the gas leak, North Carolina is currently only receiving about one third of the normal supply of fuel.

Because of the limited supply, McCrory said their primary focus remains in ensuring that emergency vehicles have the necessary fuel the need provided. For state employees, McCrory said he recommends that business’ limit unnecessary travel for their employees.

“We have also encouraged the private sector to take similar measures to encourage employees if they can to telecommunicate, where appropriate, and minimize non-essential travel,” McCrory said.

North Carolina officials are working together to eliminate any acts of price gouging as they manage to get as many tanker trucks into North Carolina as fast as possible. Reports say Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Office has received more than 1,000 reports of possible price gouging.

“We are trying to get as many trucks, we are now delivering to get to North Carolina as quick as possible, so I’ve waived many of the restrictions for trucking to get them to our state as quick as possible,” McCrory said.

During the press conference, McCrory thanked all who have worked diligently to replenish the fuel in areas that are currently out and concluded his words by recommending North Carolinians continue to limit their unnecessary travel these next few days while they work to get things back to normal.

“This is typically a short-term problem and will remain a short-term problem if we follow these guidelines,” McCrory said.

You can see a list of gas stations with and without gasoline here.

Don’t Touch That Gas Tank Without Discharging

CHAPEL HILL – Why do you get shocked most noticeably in the winter?

WCHL’s resident science expert Jeff Danner says, especially in the winter, you’ll experience the natural phenomenon of exchanging electrons from one surface to another.

“If one of the two surfaces is an insulator, as the surfaces are rubbing together, the insulating surface will accumulate those electrons,” Danner says. “As they accumulate, that’s the electric charge. The more and more of them there are, the higher the charge it.”

Danner says those electrons are waiting for the surface where they’ve built up to touch something grounded and will then jump over to that surface. That creates the spark that you see, often feel, and sometimes hear.

But why don’t you feel that spark as much in the summer?

“In the summertime it’s humid,” Danner says. “When the world is humid, everything around you—your skin, the surfaces, the rug—is coated with a think layer of water molecules. Water is a conductor. As I said before, in order for a static charge to build up, one of the two surfaces rubbing together needs to be an insulator. Well, when the world is covered with water, nothing is really insulating on the surface.”

The energy in the spark is very high—so high it could like a fire. It’s the same concept that makes spark plugs work.

Danner says that’s why it’s so important to make sure you touch something metal before filling up your car’s gas tank.

“A few times a year, someone who has just filled their gas tank, and then they go out to remove the nozzle, there’ll be a spark from themselves to the nozzle or to the car, and that’ll ignite the gasoline vapors that are there,” Danner says.

And, he says it happens to women more than 95 percent more than it does to men.

“It’s traced back to a difference in behavior,” Danner says. “Most men, they get out of the car, they stand on the ground, they fill the tank, they put the nozzle away, and they get back in the car. Many, if not all, women will start the gas flow, go back and sit in the front seat, take care of something, and then get back out. Well, while they’re sitting in the car, if the car has a charge accumulated from while it’s driving, they can get charged on their clothing or on their bodies. Then when they go do reach for that, that spark will light the gas.”

Danner says some cars now have a spot on the driver’s door where he or she can discharge any built up electrons before going to the gas tank.

Gas Price Decrease Not Likely To Last

CHARLOTTE – Get your gas now; AAA Carolinas says the prices are going back up.

Since last week, national gas price averages dropped from $3.67 per gallon to $3.62, and they’re down to $3.54 in the Triangle, three cents lower than a week ago.  Although prices at the pump have decreased over the past few days, Public Relations Manager at AAA Carolinas, Angela Daley, says there was a huge increase a few weeks ago and it’s likely to happen again.

“We saw a huge increase a few weeks ago, or over the past few weeks, and we’ve just started to see a decrease over the past couple days.  The increase was due to unrest in Egypt, which caused crude oil prices to spike well over a hundred dollars a barrel,” says Daley.

Daley says the rapid increase in crude oil prices per barrel was causing prices to spike two to three cents a night, and now what we’re seeing is a little bit of a pullback.

Despite the recent drop, Daley says prices tend to increase in the second half of the summer, during the peak summer driving season when demand is at its highest point of the year.

“I do expect gas prices to turn around and start heading back upwards towards the second half of the summer, but it’s really hard to say.  If crude oil prices stabilize, or if they go back down, depending on what happens in the Middle East as well—all those factors will impact prices at the pump,” says Daley.

She says another factor that can play a huge role in affecting gas prices as we head into August and September is hurricane season.

“We know that even the threat of a hurricane in the Gulf can impact gas prices tremendously.  That’s because we get ninety percent of our oil from the gulf,” Daley says.

Although hurricane season is most prominent in August and September, Daley advises us to keep an eye on what’s happening in the Middle East as well, because those conflicts are independent of seasonal trends that affect gas prices.

NC Lawmakers Hone Rules For Gas, Oil Drilling

RALEIGH – North Carolina lawmakers are honing rules that would govern underground natural gas drilling and encourage offshore oil drilling.

The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to legislation intended to spur the state’s energy. It now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory.

The measure removes an earlier idea to begin issuing permits in March 2015 for underground gas drilling using a method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The existing law directs state agencies to craft rules for oil and gas exploration by October 2014 and requires the legislature to act before issuing any permits.

The legislation also directs McCrory to negotiate an offshore energy alliance with the governors of South Carolina and Virginia.

Republican Rep. Mike Stone of Sanford says lawmakers want to tell the energy industry that North Carolina welcomes drilling.

AAA Report: No More Gas Below $3

Image courtesy of Clotee Pridgen Allochuku

CHARLOTTE – You may never see gas prices go below $3, according to a new report by the American Automobile Association.

Director of communications for AAA Carolinas, Angela Daley, says that, with a few exceptions like South Carolina, this looks like the future of gas prices in America.

“I think it’s reasonable for some parts of the country to drop below $3 a gallon, but for the most part, what we’re seeing is that range between $3 and $4 a gallon, with $3.50 being about normal,” Daley says.

Oil prices are only expected to go up, as Daley says prices typically rise in the second half of the summer.

“It’s due to demand, but it’s also due to the fact that unrest in Egypt is causing concerns over the distribution of oil through the Suez Canal,” Daley says.

Daley says that conflict in other countries affects our oil prices because the oil market is global and interconnected.

“I think the more that we can produce domestically, we’ll be able to keep the volatility from being as dramatic as we have seen over the past few years,” Daley says. “But it’s really all about supply and demand and remembering that we’re working in a global market, so as much as we’re producing here, much of that oil is still being exported elsewhere.”

Daley says rising gas prices are also a result of both oil production and oil demand from growing economies.

“For the most part, we’re seeing that countries, like China, India, Brazil, are all increasing their demand,” Daley says. “So as we increase our supply here and globally, the demand is also going up.”

Daley says oil prices in North Carolina especially are expected to rise throughout the summer, as the Carolinas get 90 percent of their oil from the Gulf and hurricane season is just getting started.

NC Gas Tax To Remain Mostly Flat For Next 6 Months

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina gas tax is increasing from 37.5 cents per gallon to 37.6 cents per gallon.

The Department of Revenue says the new rate for the motor fuels tax on gasoline, diesel and alternative fuels starts July 1 and lasts through 2013. The tax is computed using a flat rate of 17.5 cents per gallon and a variable of the average wholesale price of motor fuel during the last six months.

The average wholesale price is a weighted average of the wholesale prices of gasoline and No. 2 diesel fuel.  The average price for the last period was $2.8743 cents per gallon.

A new rate will go into effect in January 2014.

Consumers at retail locations pay the tax. The money then goes to the department.