Colonial Pipeline said it restarted operations on Wednesday afternoon after a five-day outage caused by a ransomware attack that caused gasoline shortages and panic buying in east coast states.
“Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal,” the operator of the 5,500 mile pipeline said on its website. “Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience or continue to experience intermittent service disruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will safely transport as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.
Colonial temporarily halted operations on Saturday after determining that it was the victim of a ransomware attack. The pipeline crosses 11 states, from New Jersey to Texas.
The closure of a major fuel artery has shaken up businesses and consumers. American Airlines has added temporary refueling stops to two long-haul flights out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Southwest Airlines has flown planes with extra fuel at airports including Nashville International Airport.
Meanwhile, gas stations in some states were selling up to three times their normal amount of gasoline, driving prices up to 8 to 10 cents per gallon. Some stations are running out of fuel and others have purchases limited to 10 gallons or less.
Although everything indicates that the attack hit the IT part of the company’s network and did not spread to the operational technology part that controls the operations of the pipeline, Colonial said on Saturday it had initiated the shutdown. as a precaution.
Colonial Pipeline said it is working with third-party cybersecurity experts, law enforcement and other federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the FBI. Representatives for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An external audit of Colonial Pipeline in 2018 revealed “atrocious” information management practices and “a patchwork of poorly connected and secure systems,” the Associated Press reported, citing an author of the report. Meanwhile, Reuters, citing anonymous sources, said Colonial Pipeline did not intend to pay the ransom.