After a six-day outage, the top U.S. fuel pipeline on Thursday moved some of the first millions of gallons of motor fuels to East Coast states after throwing off a crippling cyberattack.
The Colonial Pipeline Co, which can carry 100 million gallons per day of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, resumed computer-controlled pumping after adding safety measures. It will take several days for deliveries to fully recover and interruptions are possible, the company said.
The shutdown caused gasoline shortages and emergency declarations from Virginia to Florida, led two refineries to curb production, and had airlines reshuffling some refueling operations.
Motorists’ tempers frayed as panic buying led stations to run out even where supplies were available.
The average national gasoline price rose above $3.00 a gallon, the highest since October 2014, the American Automobile Association said, and prices in some areas rose jumped as much as 11 cents in a day.
As FBI cybersleuths dug into an attack that paralyzed a large part of the U.S. energy infrastructure, the group believed to be responsible said it was publishing data from breaches at three other companies, including an Illinois technology firm.
It was not known how much money the hackers were seeking and Colonial has declined to comment. But people familiar with the matter said pipeline executives had no intention of paying a ransom. The operator has maintained it took some systems offline as a precaution.
To stem fuel shortages, four states and federal regulators relaxed fuel driver restrictions to speed deliveries of fresh supplies. Georgia suspended sales tax on gasoline until Saturday.
Gulf Coast refiners that move fuel to market on the Colonial Pipeline had cut processing as an alternative pipeline filled to capacity last weekend. Total SE trimmed gasoline production at its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery and Citgo Petroleum pared back at its Lake Charles, Louisiana, plant.
Airlines began refueling planes at their destinations, instead of usual departure points. On Wednesday, Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian said more fuel would be available “hopefully by the end of the week and as long as those predictions come true, hopefully we’ll be OK.”
Copyright 2021 Thomson/Reuters