ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Colonial Pipeline said it began restarting pipeline operations at about 5 p.m. ET yesterday and anticipates continued short-term supply-chain disruptions that should resolve within several days.
“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period,” the company said. “Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.”
(For insight into how liquid fuel products are distributed throughout the U.S. and why regional disruptions can have broader implications for the market, download a free copy of the Fuels Institute report, “Assessment of the U.S. Fuel Distribution Network.”)
Colonial said it “will conduct a comprehensive series of pipeline safety assessments in compliance with all federal pipeline safety requirements” as part of the restart process.
Speculation regarding the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and subsequent shutdown triggered a panic among drivers throughout the Southeast this week. Many rushed to fill their tanks, leaving thousands of gas stations and convenience retailers without fuel.
Friday’s cyberattack on the 5,500-mile-long pipeline also left airlines vulnerable. Several announced they would send jet fuel to the region by air to ensure that service is not disrupted. Gasoline in Georgia and a few other states rose three to 10 cents a gallon on Tuesday, a jump typically seen only when hurricanes interrupt Gulf Coast refinery and pipeline operations. The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose two cents on Tuesday.
According to BusinessInsider.com, as of early Wednesday the worst-hit states were North Carolina, where 24.8% of stations were out of gas; Georgia, where 15.4% were empty; and Virginia, where 15% had run out. There were acute shortages in Atlanta, where almost 60% of stations were out of fuel Wednesday morning; Charlotte, where the figure was 71%, and Raleigh where it was 72%. That report came from the app GasBuddy.
AAA expects further price hikes in some regions of the country. Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson, said that Mississippi, Tennessee and the East Coast from Georgia into Delaware are "most likely" to suffer from fuel shortages and price increases, which could be between three cents and seven cents a gallon. Other areas of the country "will see little impact," BusinessInsider.com reported.
The FBI said the cyberattack was carried out by an organized group of hackers called DarkSide.
TheHill.com reports that the Biden Administration and Capitol Hill are taking a close look at the security for all critical oil and gas utilities following the Colonial shutdown.
On Monday, Biden said his administration will soon begin 100-day initiatives focused on improving the cybersecurity of natural gas pipelines, water and other critical sectors. Earlier this year, administration officials began a similar effort aimed at electricity security.
“My administration is committed to safeguarding our critical infrastructure, much of which is privately owned and managed like Colonial,” Biden said. “Private entities are making their own determinations on cybersecurity.”
On Tuesday evening, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese convened the interagency principals leading the administration’s response to the pipeline incident.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is allowing Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to use interstate highways in their states to transport overweight loads of gasoline and other fuels, under existing disaster declarations.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a second emergency fuel waiver expanding on a waiver that EPA issued Tuesday morning for the District of Columbia and areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The second waiver waives the requirements for low volatility conventional gasoline and Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) for the District of Columbia and areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia and includes Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Specific Counties of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The following states have issued emergency waivers or emergency declarations in response to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown: