Colonial Pipeline Restarting Operations After Cyberattack – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth
CLEMMONS, NC (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The country’s largest fuel pipeline reopened Wednesday, days after it was brought to a halt by a gang of hackers.
The disruption of the colonial pipeline created long queues at gas stations in the southeast due to distribution problems and panic buying, exhausting supplies at thousands of gas stations.
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Colonial re-started pipeline operations late Wednesday, stating in a statement that “all lines, including the side lines, will be returned to normal operations.”
However, it will take a few days for shipments to return to normal, the company said.
Meanwhile, drivers in several southeastern states have found gas stations with little or no gasoline.
The Colonial Pipeline, which supplies about 45% of the fuel consumed on the east coast, was hit by a cyber attack on Friday by hackers blocking computer systems and demanding a ransom to release it. The hackers did not take control of the pipeline operations, but Colonial closed the pipeline to contain the damage.
The attack re-raised concerns about the vulnerability of the country’s critical infrastructure.
“What you feel is not a lack of supply or a supply problem. What we have is a transportation problem, ”said Jeanette McGee, spokeswoman for the AAA auto club. “There are enough supplies to fuel the United States for the summer, but we have a problem getting them to these gas stations” because the pipeline is down.
The pipeline runs from Houston, Texas to metropolitan New York, but the states in the southeast are more reliant on it. Other parts of the country have more sources to tap into. For example, a significant amount of fuel is delivered to northeastern states by massive tankers.
Jamar Gatison, 36, filled his tank Wednesday before a doctor’s appointment in Norfolk, Virginia.
“I’m running out of gas so I have no choice,” said the construction worker while waiting in line at a 7-Eleven.
“I’m an Uber Eats driver too. I need gas for that, too, ”said Gatison, who added he likely won’t be delivering food Wednesday night because he doesn’t want to stand in line again while the shortage persists.
In North Carolina, 65% of gas stations were out of fuel, according to Gasbuddy.com, a technology company that tracks real-time fuel prices across the country. At the gates of Raleigh, two people were charged with assault after they quarreled and spat in the face at a marathon gas station on Tuesday.
North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper on Wednesday urged people to only buy gasoline when the tank is low and to report cases of price cuts.
“This news is another reason people don’t need to panic now to buy gasoline unless they really need it,” he tweeted after Colonial announced it would restart the pipeline.
Georgians were also crushed as 43% of gas stations ran out of gas, according to Gasbuddy.com. In Virginia, 44% of the stations were down, and in South Carolina, 16% were out of fuel.
On the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine through one of the roughest and most remote areas in the Southeast, hikers rely on car and van shuttles to get them to and from the trail and get them back to civilization.
“When I run out of gas, I don’t run,” said Ron Brown of Ellijay, Georgia, who operates Ron’s Appalachian Trail Shuttles and often takes hikers on long trips from the Atlanta Airport to the mountains of northern Georgia and to and from many points along the way .
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Mary Goldburg, 60, of Norfolk, Virginia, waited more than 20 minutes for a slow pump on a 7-Eleven to fill her tank on Wednesday. Their job is to deliver t-shirts for events and other promotional items.
“I can’t get paid until my customers get their products,” Goldburg said.
The disruption comes around the time of year Americans are becoming more mobile, especially when the nation emerges from the pandemic.
There were four to five cars at each pump in a Circle K in Clemmons, North Carolina. Several people said they drove to several gas stations to find one with gasoline. The gas stations across the street ran out of fuel.
Mair Martinez, who works in landscaping, replenished his lawn equipment and truck after checking several other gas stations with no luck.
“That’s why we came today to fill it all up,” he said.
Johnathan King, who works for a towing company in the area, was filling his tow truck. He said he usually makes 10 to 12 service calls a day and drives between multiple cities in the area.
“It will be very difficult for us. Hopefully we can do it, ”he said.
Several U.S. agencies have coordinated to relax the rules and allow fuel to be transported faster by truck, train, or ship. However, those changes had little impact on Wednesday.
The White House said the Department of Transportation now allows states served by the pipeline to use highways to carry overweight loads of gasoline and other fuels. But there is a national truck shortage, so the industry can no longer get many trucks on the road.
There are approximately 121,000 convenience stores nationwide selling approximately 5,300 gallons of gasoline per day, which is about 80% of retail fuel sales. In many stores, demand was two to five times higher than normal, Jeff Lenard of the National Association of Convenience Stores said in a conference call with reporters. In parts of Florida that are not pipeline dependent, retailers are even running out of fuel, he said.
Rationing was put in place after a few natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but this time there might be resistance, especially if it looks like the pipeline could be back to normal in a few days.
It could also backfire. “Once the rationing occurs, there will be more panic buying,” said Ryan McNutt, CEO of the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline was above $ 3 for the first time since Wednesday 2016, according to the AAA. Prices start to rise around this time every year, and the auto club said Wednesday that the average price hit $ 3.008 nationwide.
“You go to some states and you will see much higher climbs, especially in the south, because that is where you see the greatest impact in terms of gasoline pollution or human exposure,” McGee said.
A spokesman for AAA Texas told KXAN that the temporary shutdown would have “little or no impact” on availability in Texas.
“If you see something that we haven’t heard of reports of low to no fuel situations in Texas or Austin, it’s because of late deliveries due to a lack of tanker drivers. Again, not the Colonial Pipeline, ”Josh Zuber told KXAN.
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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)