A ransomware attack on one of the nation’s largest pipelines that carries refined gas and jet fuel along the East coast forced it to shutdown last Friday.
Now gas shortages have started popping up in the south and prices have started to climb.
The disruption of the Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from Texas to New Jersey, has begun to disrupt both the auto and air industries. Airlines are now moving jet fuel by air to continue service. On the ground, the national average for a gallon of gas has hit three dollars for the first time since 2014 as prices in the southern states have risen anywhere from three to ten cents and people have begun hoarding gas.
Gas stations in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina are all reporting more than 10% of their gas stations have no fuel and Florida, Georgia, and Alabama are reporting less than 5% of stations are without fuel. While the shortages are relatively minor at this point, the Colonial Pipeline is responsible for about half (45%) of the gas transported along the East Coast. Meaning if the pipeline remains shut down into the middle of next week, things could get serious.
According to the New York Times, the situation has become so dire, some stations have begun 10 gallon limits per customer and state lawmakers are also getting involved.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order suspending the state’s gas tax through the weekend. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper have all declared states of emergency in order to suspend fuel transportation rules.
Colonial Pipeline has remained largely silent during this situation. It has not commented on the cyberattack or its security, but said it hopes to restore the pipeline by the end of the week. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters Tuesday residents do not need to hoard gas and the pipeline should be fully operational by Monday.
“Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic,” Granholm said. “There should be no cause for hoarding gasoline, especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend.”