Southeastern US Scrambles for Fuel, as Colonial Pipeline Slowly Resumes Supplies

World | May 13, 2021, Thursday // 06:27
Bulgaria: Southeastern US Scrambles for Fuel, as Colonial Pipeline Slowly Resumes Supplies

Colonial Pipeline began to slowly restart the nation's largest fuel pipeline network on Wednesday after a ransomware attack shut the line, triggering fuel shortages and panic buying in the southeastern United States.

It will take several days for the 5,500 mile (8,850 km) pipeline to return to normal operations, Colonial said, even as motorists in southeastern states jammed stations seeking fuel. A return to ample supplies could take two weeks, analysts said.

The cyberattack halted 2.5 million barrels per day of shipments of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel last Friday after the most disruptive cyberattack ever on U.S. energy infrastructure.

Sources familiar with Colonial's response said the company does not plan to pay the ransom demanded by hackers who encrypted data on the pipeline.

The supply crunch sparked panic buying in the U.S. Southeast, bringing long lines and high prices at gas stations ahead of the peak summer driving season.

Nearly 60% of gas stations in Atlanta were without gasoline yesterday. Survey showed 65% of stations in North Carolina and 43% in Georgia and South Carolina without fuel. Virginia also reported high outages.

The average gasoline price in US rose to above 3.00 USD per gallon, the highest since October 2014, the American Automobile Association said.

Fuel industry representatives urged consumers to stop panic buying. They noted the country has plenty of gasoline supplies and said hoarding is creating shortages in areas not served by the pipeline.

The FBI has accused a shadowy criminal gang called DarkSide of the ransomware attack. The group, believed to be based in Russia or Eastern Europe, has not directly taken credit, but on Wednesday it claimed to have breached systems at three other companies, including an Illinois tech firm. L1N2MZ2R6

Russia's embassy in the United States rejected speculation that Moscow was behind the attack. On Monday, Biden said there was no evidence so far that Russia was responsible.

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