CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — AAA representatives are warning drivers that Virginia will most likely see gas prices rise this week following the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

Martha Meade, AAA Midatlantic Public and Government Affairs Manager, says a cyberattack on the pipeline over the weekend caused a shutdown out of precaution.

The shutdown caused the gasoline line to become inoperative. Therefore, gas prices may rise and only a limited supply of fuel will be available.

“The longer the shutdown lasts, the worse the impacts are,” Meade said. AAA reiterated those concerns in a press release sent on Monday.

The Colonial Pipeline spans from Texas to New York Harbor. It delivers nearly 45% of all fuel to the East Coast.

Meade says Colonial Pipeline announced Monday that it could have the mainline restarted by the end of this week.

“We need to be restarted as soon as possible,” she said.

Virginia’s average gas price has already risen three cents at the top of this week to $2.76. Meade predicts the prices could go up six to seven cents this week.

However, she urges drivers to avoid panic-buying gasoline because there is enough supply in the U.S.

“There’s plenty of gas in the United States,” Meade said. “It’s getting it from the refineries to the gas stations and into your tank.”

Two product terminals — where drivers fill up trucks with gasoline to transport it to gas stations — in Virginia are already reporting outages of some types of gas, Meade said. One is located in Richmond and the other is in Fairfax County.

Drivers are encouraged to do the following to help save fuel:

  • Drive with the window down to keep the air conditioning to a minimum
  • Use the car to run multiple errands all in one trip.
  • Remove heavy objects from the car before driving, because it takes more gas to power a heavier vehicle

“Make sure you have gas in your tank but do not panic buy,” Meade said, “because we know and as we have seen with the pandemic panic buying can certainly cause a shortage that sometimes might not have been there in the past.”

When the pipeline is back up and running again, it will take 15-18 days to get fuel from Texas to New York, said Meade.