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Alabama oil leak causing higher gas prices in Maryland

An oil pipeline leak in Alabama is driving up gas prices in Maryland.

A massive pipeline leak in Alabama earlier this month is driving up gas prices in Maryland and elsewhere on the East Coast, AAA Mid-Atlantic said Tuesday.

The roughly 300,000-gallon leak, discovered Sept. 9 in a section of the Colonial Pipeline in Helena, Ala., prompted the company to temporarily shut down two pipelines, leading to scattered gasoline shortages and outages across the South.

The pipeline transports about 1.3 million barrels of refined products per day from Gulf Coast refineries to customers from Atlanta to New York — nearly 40 percent of the region's gasoline.

The shutdown has pushed up prices all along the East Coast. The average price of a gallon of gas in Baltimore was $2.24 on Tuesday, up 9 cents from last week, according to AAA's analysis.

Prices in Salisbury on the Eastern Shore, which generally has some of the cheapest gas in the state, have jumped 20 cents per gallon, also to an average of $2.24, since last week, said Ragina Cooper Averella, an AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman.

"It looks like we're getting some of the trickle-down effect of what is occurring in some of the more Southern states," Averella said.

Prices are up 27 cents in one week in Georgia and 18 cents in South Carolina.

Gas prices had been trending down following the summer driving season, and they're expected to continue to fall once the pipeline problem is resolved, Averella said.

The Alpharetta, Ga.-based pipeline company has finished emergency construction of a 500-foot section of pipe to serving as a bypass for the leaking section that it expects to open Wednesday. While Colonial expects to be able to resume gasoline deliveries by the end of the week, supply disruptions may continue for days, Colonial spokesman Steve Baker said.

Marylanders could continue to see inflated prices at the pump until the issue is completely resolved, AAA said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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