Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack Causes Gas Shortages

Motorists in Southeast warned against 'panic buying'
gas shortage fuel dispenser
Photograph: Shutterstock

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Gas stations in the Southeast are experiencing increasing fuel shortages in the wake of the ransomware cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline.

At least eight states have experienced an increase in the percentage of gas stations without gasoline in the past 24 hours, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for Boston-based GasBuddy. States with gas shortages include Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Maryland.

The increasing shortages come as experts continue to warn motorists against “panic buying” or hoarding gasoline in response to the pipeline’s disruption. In Florida, for instance, consumers are “actually creating the shortage of gasoline” in reaction to “seeing reports about the Colonial Pipeline outage,” Mark Jenkins, spokesperson for AAA, told the Tallahasee Democrat.

Hackers with the group DarkSide are reportedly responsible for the attack. Colonial Pipeline became aware of the ransomware on Friday. On Monday , Alpharetta, Ga.-based Colonial Pipeline said that parts of its system are being brought back online and it hopes to restore service by the end of the week.

On the federal level, the White House has convened an interagency response group consisting of the Department of Justice (including the FBI), the Department of Homeland Security including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House Office of Management and Budget. The group is assessing the attack’s effects on fuel supply and U.S. energy markets and is considering policy options. As part of the working group, and at the White House’s request, the Energy Department’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response and the U.S. Energy Information Administration have conducted analyses of potential effects of the shutdown and assessed various options for mitigating those effects, including moving supplies by trucks or marine vessels. DOE, the FBI, and other working group members are working directly with the pipeline operator to provide any assistance they need to safely restart operation.

Over the weekend the Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it was taking steps to create more flexibility for motor carriers and drivers and issued a temporary hours of service exemption that applies to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

On May 11, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration added West Virginia to the list of states covered, bringing the total to 18 states covered. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a reformulated gas (RFG) l waiver for the Mid-Atlantic which will allow conventional fuel to be sold in RFG areas in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to facilitate the supply of gasoline.

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