ATLANTA – Fulton County officials have said that a cyberattack that closed a local gas pipeline could disrupt the gas supply to the Atlanta metro.
Colonial Pipeline in Alpharetta was the victim of a ransomware attack, the company reported on Friday evening.
The company temporarily halted all pipeline operations while it investigated.
The Atlanta-Fulton EMA said on Saturday that major gas shortages are not expected at this time, but offered advice to make sure you have enough fuel.
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Angela Holland, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, said there should be enough fuel in Georgia as Colonial Pipeline works on the issue.
“Generally speaking, there is a 21-day supply at storage facilities in Georgia,” Holland said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News. “The last period of disruption we experienced was in 2016. We had four issues in eight weeks, and although we had irregular breakdowns, we did not experience fuel shortages for Georgian drivers. Given the reduced number of commuters to and from workplaces, there should be a sufficient amount of supply to keep Georgia fueled while Colonial works on the issue. “
Michael Seiden the Channel 2 spoke with Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. He said the Colonial Pipeline is North America’s largest pipeline and carries 45% of the East Coast’s fuel supply.
Still, Kloza said it’s not time to panic and there is still time before it affects our wallets.
“I would say if we last longer than five days, in that five to ten day category, we’re going to have some disruption,” Kloza said. “The problem is, the station operators and distributors are charging because they fear price increases.”
Kloza said this could lead to fuel starvation at some gas stations, which could lead to a similar response from consumers, such as the toilet paper shortage last year.
“Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Kloza said. “I think if people stay calm then I think everything will be fine.”
Kloza said if the pipeline is down for this long it could be a crisis on the Gulf of Mexico’s east coast.
Kloza said he believes Georgia and Tennessee may experience the greatest shortages in the Southeast.
“Unfortunately, the southeast thanks to spring break and more open cities than the rest of the country is a bit more constrained in supply than the rest of the country,” Kloza said.
Fulton County officials have advised drivers to avoid refueling unless you need to and fill the tank to 50% of what you would normally do.
Drivers are also advised to do multiple errands in one trip, minimize the use of air conditioning, remove loose items from your car, and use the most fuel efficient vehicle you own.
Officials are also asking people to use public transport.
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