By Natalie DeCoste
The Colonial Pipeline has finally come back online after a ransomware attack on May 7 shut it down.
The pipeline restarted operations Wednesday at approximately 5 p.m. ET. The Colonial Pipeline is the largest U.S. refined products pipeline system and a critical artery to deliver gasoline along the East Coast, delivering roughly 45% of the fuel consumed in the region. Last week, the pipeline was shut down following a ransomware attack that U.S. officials have linked to a Russian criminal gang known as DarkSide.
The pipeline’s shutdown resulted in a jump in both price and demand for gasoline in the Southeast region of the United States. The area saw long gas lines and gas stations running out of gas at the pumps.
The run on gasoline shot the price of gas above $3 for the first time in six and a half years.
“What you’re feeling is not a lack of supply or a supply issue. What we have is a transportation issue. There is ample supply to fuel the United States for the summer, but what we’re having is an issue with is getting it to those gas stations,” said Jeanette McGee, spokeswoman for the AAA auto club.
The pipeline has been restarted, and gas is flowing again, but things are still not back to normal. While the company has initiated a restart, it cannot deliver enough gasoline to meet demand immediately.
“Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal,” Colonial said in a statement.
The company had previously said that it had restarted some smaller segments of the pipeline system by operating them manually while the mainline remained shut down. With the manual restarts, the company reported that it had delivered 41 million gallons of fuel to various delivery points as of Tuesday afternoon.
Even with manual restarts in smaller segments, the Southeast was still pressed for gasoline. According to price and fuel tracker GasBuddy, which compiles data when drivers report such outages, 68% of the gas stations in North Carolina were out of fuel as of Wednesday afternoon. In Virginia, 49% of gas stations had run dry; in Georgia, 45%; in South Carolina, 45%; in Tennessee, 18%; in Florida, 14%; and in Maryland, 13%.
As if Thursday at 9 a.m. ET, Colonial reported that gasoline delivery was starting in a majority of the markets its pipeline services. The company expects that each market it services will be receiving gasoline from the pipeline by mid-day Thursday.