Colonial Pipeline gas shortages, widen across the East Coast.The shortages are a result of last week's cyberattack on the company.which provides fuel to about 45% of the Eastern Seaboard from the Gulf Coast to the metro New York area.The national average for gas prices has reached $3 per gallon, the highest it's been since October 2014.North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia have been hit hardest by the shortages, with multiple states declaring a state of emergency.Colonial Pipeline Co. said on May 10 that it is working to restore its systems by the end of the week
By Tim Darnell and Rich Barak
Updated May 13, 2021
Colonial Pipeline has confirmed that it has restarted its entire pipeline system and “product delivery has commenced to all markets we serve.”
President Joe Biden blamed Russia-based criminals for this past weekend’s devastating cyberattack on Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline that resulted in long lines and empty gas pumps throughout the Southeast.
“We do not believe the Russian government itself was involved,” Biden said, adding the FBI also does not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin was involved.
»Watch a replay of Biden’s remarks below
Biden said “it’s going to take some time” for Colonial Pipeline to fully recover, but the situation “should improve this weekend and early into next week. He also warned against panic buying.
“Don’t panic,” he said. “I know seeing lines at the pumps or gas stations with no gas can be extremely stressful. But this is a temporary situation. Do not get more gas than you need in the next few days. Panic buying will only slow the process.”
“I want to be clear; we will not feel the effects at the pump immediately,” Biden said. “This is not like flicking on a light switch. This pipeline is 5,500 miles long.”
Also Thursday, Bloomberg reported Colonial paid almost $5 million in ransom to DarkSide, the group of hackers behind this past weekend’s cyberattack. Colonial has not confirmed or denied any payment to the hackers.
SCOOP: Colonial Pipeline Paid Hackers Nearly $5 Million in Ransom. Story to come.
The company said it can report “substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system and can report that product delivery has commenced in a majority of the markets we service. By mid-day today, we project that each market we service will be receiving product from our system.”
Colonial said it restarted its pipeline operations Wednesday afternoon about 5 p.m. The company said it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal, and said it will move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible until markets return to normal.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday it would take days to fully restore supplies after the restart, and Colonial warned the line may go down again from time to time while it’s in the process of restarting.
The news came as gasoline stations were running dry from Florida to Virginia after Colonial was forced to take systems offline May 7. In parts of the South, three in every four gas stations had no fuel as of Wednesday, while in Washington, D.C., cars were lining up for blocks as they waited to fill up. U.S. pump prices have topped $3 a gallon for the first time in six years. Colonial each day normally ships about 2.5 million barrels (105 million gallons), an amount that exceeds the entire oil consumption of Germany.
The technology firm Gasbuddy.com found that 28% of stations were out of fuel in North Carolina. In Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, more than 16% of stations were without gas.
Shortly before the Colonial announcement, Biden said he was expecting good news on the situation and touted the steps he had taken to relieve supply disruptions.
“We have been in very, very close contact with Colonial Pipeline,” Biden said. “I think you’re going to hear some good news in the next 24 hours, and I think we’ll be getting that under control.”
Biden also told reporters, “I’ve lifted some of the restrictions on the transportation of fuel as well as access to the United States military providing fuel, and with vehicles to get it there, places where it’s badly needed.”
The White House announced several measures to blunt the growing crisis, including waiving some gasoline requirements and empowering 10 states to allow heavier-than-normal truckloads of fuels.
The Transportation Department was surveying how many vessels could carry fossil fuels to the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Seaboard to provide gasoline. Waivers were issued to expand the hours that fuel can be transported by roadways. The Environmental Protection Agency issued waivers on gas blends and other regulations to ease any supply challenges.