The closure of the 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline, which transports more than 100 million gallons of fuel from Texas to New Jersey every day, has reached its fifth day. The Alpharetta, Ga.-Based company has suspended all operations after being hit by a ransomware attack on Friday that could prove to be one of the costliest in U.S. history.
Colonial said on Monday it hoped to get most of its operations back online by the weekend, but it’s not early enough to avoid shortages and price hikes as supply has already started to drop. decrease.
According to Patrick DeHaan, an analyst at GasBuddy, about 7.6% of gas stations in Virginia were out of fuel. He added that nearly 5% of gas stations in North Carolina and 3.3% in Georgia as well as 2.4% in Florida also report that they have run out of fuel.
The shortages prompted North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to declare a state of emergency on Monday to help ensure the state maintains an adequate supply of fuel.
Panic buying appears to have exacerbated the limited supply. DeHaan said that in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, gasoline demand has increased by more than 40%.
The Ingles supermarket chain, which operates gas stations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, is already experiencing shortages and running out of gasoline at some of its locations, the director said. financier Ron Freeman at the Citizen Times.
At an Exxon Mobil station in Asheville, North Carolina, an employee answered the phone with “Hello, I’m out of gas right now,” according to Bloomberg. The outlet added that another station in Manning, South Carolina, bagged its pumps and marked them “out of service.”
Atlanta-based RaceTrac confirmed to WSBTV-2 that some of its gas stations in Georgia are already reporting temporary outages. And lines reported by WBTW-TV at stations in South Carolina, Marion and Mullins in Myrtle Beach, are getting longer as drivers scramble for gasoline.
Concerns about gasoline shortages and panic buying images surfaced on social media Monday night.
In a meeting Monday, Colonial chief executive Joseph Blount warned state officials that supply shortages could arise throughout the week as the company and the federal government scramble to get operations back on track, Bloomberg reported. The outlet added that the White House had said it was “monitoring supply shortages in parts of the southeast.”
While the company said Monday it is manually operating part of the pipeline from North Carolina to Maryland, most of the line is still out of order. Colonial is working with the federal government to investigate and respond to the hack. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Sunday that a general effort was underway to restore operations.
“We are working closely with the company, national and local authorities to ensure that they return to normal operations as quickly as possible and that there are no disruptions in supply,” said Raimondo .
On Monday, the FBI confirmed that the cyberattack was carried out by a professional gang of hackers known as “DarkSide”.
DarkSide has been known to extort money from businesses and cut charities, The Associated Press reported on Sunday, citing sources close to the federal investigation.
In a statement reportedly posted on DarkSide’s website, the group said, “Our goal is to make money, not to create problems for society. From today, we are introducing moderation and checking every business our partners want to cost to avoid social consequences in the future. “The statement, provided to CNBC on Monday by Boston-based security firm Cybereason, added: “We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to bind ourselves to a defined government and research our motives. . “
As President Biden stopped on Monday to link the Kremlin and DarkSide, he said “there is evidence that the actor ransomware is in Russia.”
During a White House briefing, Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, also described Darkside as “a criminal actor” but said that “our intelligence community is looking for any link with the actors of the nation-state ”.