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VERIFY: No, there is not a national gas shortage from pipeline cyberattack

After last week's Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, we've gotten comments, messages, and phone calls asking if there's a need to start racking up on fuel.

MACON, Ga. — Across Central Georgia, some people are starting to ask, 'Is there a gas shortage?'

To verify, we spoke to AAA spokesperson Montrae Waiters and Associate Professor of Economics at Mercer University, Antonio Saravia.

"Consumers start getting panicked and start anticipating an increase in price. The expectations start to develop and as a result, they run to the gas stations and then we see an increase in price," says Saravia.

Saravia says we've seen this before, just like last year when people brought toilet paper in bulk.

"When that happens, obviously our normal instinct and reaction is to go to the store and buy that product -- in this case, gas -- before those prices go up," he says.

So we asked if there a national gas shortage. Saravia says no.

"Gas stations typically keep a 21-day supply in their tanks, so if we're talking about a disruption of one, two, three days, this shouldn't be a problem," says Saravia.

AAA spokesperson Montrae Waiters says she understands the fear people have about running out of gas, but there is no cause for concern yet.

"It's not a gasoline shortage. It is important to know that there's an ample supply of gas here in the U.S., and at this point, it would be just about getting that gasoline from up north to us down south," she says.

So we verified, no, there is not a national gas shortage, but Waiters does say we can expect to see more cars on the road as the weather warms up and more people continue to get vaccinated.

"It comes back to, yes, demand is kicking up and, yes, there are more folks out on the road. However, we're still not back to the level of demand prior to the pandemic," says Waiters.

While we aren't in a fuel shortage right now, restarting the Colonial Pipeline is critical.

According to energy analysts, if a partial restart of the pipeline begins by Wednesday, there will be no significant or lasting impacts.

If the shutdown lasts past Wednesday, spot shortages will start to take place in parts of the Southeast, and if the shutdown lasts into next week, we could see significant fuel shortages in the interior southeast of the United States.

If you have a question you'd like our team to verify, call our newsroom at 478-752-1309 or send us a message to news@13wmaz.com.