Colonial Pipeline back to ‘normal operations’ following ransomware attack

Gas tankers filled up at the Chevron Doraville Terminal in DeKalb County on Friday. Officials say gasoline should return to most stations by the end of the weekend.


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Gas tankers filled up at the Chevron Doraville Terminal in DeKalb County on Friday. Officials say gasoline should return to most stations by the end of the weekend.


More than a week after a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline led to widespread gas shortages, the Alpharetta-based fuel distributor said it has returned its system to normal operations.

Metro Atlantans struggled to find gas this past week amid a strained fuel supply and panic buying, but stations across the area have started receiving steady shipments again.

As of Saturday, about 44% of Georgia’s gas stations were still without fuel, however, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

He expected that figure to drop as more stations receive shipments this weekend.

“First gas outage readings this AM don’t show much improvement,” De Haan said Saturday morning on Twitter, “but it’s early on a Saturday and stations that got refueled overnight may not be reported yet.”

Colonial shut down its 5,500 miles of pipelines — typically carrying nearly half of East Coast’s fuel supply — for five days following a May 7 ransomware attack. The company began restarting pipeline operations late Wednesday afternoon.

“Since that time, we have returned the system to normal operations, delivering millions of gallons per hour to the markets we serve,” the company said Saturday morning.

On Friday, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the country is “over the hump” when it comes to gas shortages after last week’s cyberattack that forced a shutdown of the nation’s largest gasoline pipeline.

Shortages peaked on Thursday night, but Granholm told The Associated Press that service should be back to normal in most areas by the end of the weekend.

“The good news is that ... gas station outages are down about 12% from the peak,” with about 200 stations returning to service every hour, she told the AP. “It’s still going to work its way through the system over the next few days, but we should be back to normal fairly soon.’'

The fuel shortage has frustrated metro Atlanta’s gas station managers, who say in-store sales have taken a significant hit with fewer people coming inside.

Chandra Vundi, who runs the Citgo on South Cobb Drive in Marietta, said Saturday that his station hasn’t had fuel in four days — and he isn’t sure when he’ll receive the next shipment.

The phone in his shop has been ringing off the hook with calls from drivers running low on fuel. But without gas, he’s been hard-pressed to get customers inside the store.

“A lot of people have stopped coming, even for water, drinks and beers,” Vundi said. “There’s been a significant drop in business.”

He said the store’s retail sales have fallen between 30% and 40% since Wednesday, estimating he’s lost about $1,000 a day because of the decreased traffic.

The hackers didn’t take control of pipeline operations, but Colonial Pipeline shut it down to prevent malware from affecting industrial control systems. The AP reported that the company paid a ransom of about $5 million after the cyberattack, citing two people briefed on the matter.

Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday extended the suspension of the state’s gas tax to help control the price of fuel. His new executive order also extended an increase in weight limits for trucks carrying fuel and prohibited price gouging. The previous executive order had been scheduled to expire Saturday.

The Biden administration on Thursday approved a waiver to allow a foreign tanker to deliver gas to an East Coast seaport and may approve more waivers. Federal trucking rules also have been relaxed.

”The idea is to look at every … tool we have to help mitigate the shortage and get back to normal as quickly as we can,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a video interview Friday afternoon.

As fuel returns to pumps across across the U.S., officials continue to urge drivers not to panic or hoard gasoline.

“Really, the gasoline is coming,’' Granholm said. “If you take more than what you need, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of the shortages. Let’s share a little bit with our neighbors and everybody should know that it’s going to be OK in the next few days.’'


The cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in metro Atlanta:

Saturday $3.04

Friday $3.05

Thursday $3.06

Wednesday $3.02

A week ago $2.75

A year ago $1.65

Source: AAA

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