Colonial Pipeline restarts after hack, but supply chain won’t return to normal for a few days

Fuel tanks are seen in the delivery of the Baltimore Colonial Pipeline in Baltimore, Maryland on May 10, 2021.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline resumed operations at around 5:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday after a ransomware attack last week took the entire system offline on Friday night. However, the company warned that its pipeline would not be fully operational immediately.

“After this restart, it will take a few days for the supply chain for product delivery to return to normal,” Colonial said in a statement. “Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may or continue to experience intermittent business interruptions during the launch phase. Colonial will and will continue to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible until markets return.” normal, “added the company.

Just before Colonial’s restart announcement, President Joe Biden said he expected “good news” from the company in the next 24 hours. He added that the White House was in “very close” contact with the company.

Most of the Colonial Pipeline, which operates the largest fuel transmission line from the Gulf Coast to the northeast, has been offline since Friday. The company shut down its systems as a proactive measure after falling victim to a ransomware attack by a criminal group called DarkSide.

The pipeline is an important part of the US oil infrastructure and transports around 2.5 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil and jet fuel every day. The pipeline spans 5,500 miles and carries nearly half of the east coast’s fuel supply. The system also supplies jet fuel to airports, including in Atlanta and Baltimore.

Given the importance of the pipeline, there has been swift action from Washington in what officials have termed a “comprehensive federal response.”

The Department of Energy led the federal government’s response in coordination with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm previously said the company would make a restart decision by the end of the day on Wednesday.

“So far there is no evidence from our intelligence officials that Russia is involved, although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia. You have a certain responsibility to deal with it,” Biden said from the White House on Monday.

Officials warned that gas supplies remained at reasonable levels, but consumers panicked when the pipeline was shut down for days.

According to GasBuddy, 65% of gas stations in North Carolina were out of gas as of Wednesday afternoon. In South Carolina and Georgia, 43% of stations were dry, while 44% of stations in Virginia reported outages.

Gas prices have also risen, with the national average for a gallon surpassing $ 3 for the first time since 2014 on Wednesday. Some areas in the Southeast are also running low on fuel as consumers go to the pump, in many cases panicking.

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