Drivers worried as more than half of NC gas stations still don’t have fuel

CHARLOTTE — It’s a slow and frustrating road back to normal after the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, causing major gasoline shortages across the Southeast.

While the gas outages have decreased, GasBuddy is reporting about half the stations in North Carolina still don’t have fuel as of Monday. That’s compared to 74% outages in North Carolina last Friday.

On Monday morning, Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura saw a number of gas stations that still had pumps covered with stickers letting drivers know they are out of service. The managers told Channel 9 they don’t know when they will get another delivery.

Colonial restarted some smaller lines last Sunday and, by Thursday, the whole system was running again. But the hundreds of outages across the state have many drivers worried as they head into the upcoming work week.

(WATCH: When will gas supplies return to normal?)

The operator of the nation’s largest gasoline pipeline -- hit on May 7 by a ransomware attack -- announced Saturday that it resumed “normal operations,” delivering fuel to its markets, including a large swath of the East Coast.

Colonial Pipeline had begun the process of restarting the pipeline’s operations last week, warning it could take several days for the supply chain to return to normal.

Because of this, officials are still discouraging panic-buying. They said people rushing out to fill up their vehicles and topping off their tanks despite not really needing to played a major role for all the gas station outages.

“It’s been rough, it’s been crazy,” driver Daniel Dixon said. “I’ve been seeing cars line up everywhere.”

“I’m on fumes right now actually,” driver Anthony Calvert said. “I didn’t go out when the mad dash for gas, I filled up the Friday before.”

Experts are hopeful we will get back to normal sometime this week ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, but you will likely pay more at the pump before that happens.

The average price in Charlotte for a gallon of gas is $2.92. Statewide, the average price is around $2.93 a gallon. On week ago, we were $0.21 lower at $2.72.

In South Carolina, it’s a few cents cheaper at $2.87. The nationwide average is $3.04. The analysts at GasBuddy.com predict prices will fall back under $3 this week.

“This is not the result of the Colonial Pipeline being shut down, rather due to the pipeline and how that fed fear that there wouldn’t be enough gasoline,” GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan said. “Americans started to hoard and panic.”

Multiple sources confirmed to The Associated Press that Colonial Pipeline had paid the criminals who committed the cyberattack a ransom of nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency for the software decryption key required to unscramble their data network.

The ransom -- 75 Bitcoin -- was paid last Saturday, a day after the criminals locked up Colonial’s corporate network, according to Tom Robinson, co-founder of the cryptocurrency-tracking firm Elliptic. Prior to Robinson’s blog post, two people briefed on the case had confirmed the payment amount to AP.

The pipeline system delivers about 45% of the gasoline consumed on the East Coast.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(WATCH: Why the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack matters)