Cyberattack Forces Shutdown Of Major U.S. Fuel Pipeline

Source: Michael M. Santiago / Getty

North Carolina and other states on the east coast could see a gas shortage over the coming weeks. This after a cyberattack shut down a vital U.S. pipeline that delivers nearly half of the fuel consumed in the eastern U.S., and the primary pipe for North Carolina, according to Gov. Roy Cooper.

The Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from Texas to New Jersey, transports a large amount of gasoline across several states along the 5,500-mile run. It was still offline as of Tuesday Morning and is expected to be back up and running later this week.

“Colonial Pipeline is continuing to work in partnership with third-party cybersecurity experts, law enforcement, and other federal agencies to restore pipeline operations quickly and safely,” the company said in a statement on Monday. “While this situation remains fluid and continues to evolve, the Colonial operations team is executing a plan that involves an incremental process that will facilitate a return to service in a phased approach.”

On Monday, Cooper issued a state of emergency “suspending motor vehicle fuel regulations to ensure adequate fuel supply supplies throughout the state.” The “emergency declaration will help prepare for any potential motor vehicle fuel supply interruptions across the state and ensure motorists are able to have access to fuel,” Cooper added.

Colonial said it was hit with a ransomware attack on May 7. The FBI identified the hack and confirmed a group called “DarkSide” was responsible for shutting down the pipeline.

This comes as President Biden is expected to announce an executive order in the coming days to address the nation’s cyberdefense infrastructure. He said on Monday his administration was working with law enforcement officials to “disrupt and prosecute ransomware criminals” for the attack on Colonial Pipeline.

The shortage is also having an effect of America Airlines long-haul flights to places like London and Hawaii. On Monday, the airline giant said it added stops to some flights out of Charlotte, North Carolina, because of a fuel supply shortage.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and working around the clock to ensure that we have an adequate supply of fuel across our network,” American said in a statement.

Colonial said early Tuesday morning there was a new line activated which runs from Greensboro, N.C., to Woodbine, MD., and was “operating under manual control for a limited period of time while existing inventory is available.” The supplemental pipeline will try to replace the 2.5 million barrels of gasoline refined daily with the main one currently offline.


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