Long lines in the southeastern United States due to fuel shortages after the cyberattack on the most significant oil pipeline
The lack of gasoline worsened in the region due to increased preventive purchases that caused a rise in prices. Colonial Pipeline, the hacked network, returned to work but warned that the supply chain "will take several days to return to normal".
The leading network of pipelines in the United States began to reactivate its operations this Wednesday after being closed for five days due to a cyberattack. It announced the company that operates them, while service stations on the east coast were seen overflowing with motorists trying to buy fuel.
Colonial Pipeline warned that it would be "several days" before supplies return to normal.
Faced with a growing shortage, a dozen states, from Florida to Virginia, declared a state of emergency, increasing panic among consumers, who flocked to gas stations with fuel cans and other containers.
"The public's perception is that the shortage is serious and the tank needs to be filled," said Andy Lipow, president of consultancy Lipow Oil Associates. "It turns out that the gasoline demand is two or three times higher than usual, which aggravates the situation," added the analyst.
On Friday, a cyberattack forced Colonial Pipeline to shut down its entire network, making supply difficult in eastern states. But the company said late Wednesday that it had "restarted operations of the gas pipeline at approximately 5 p.m. ET" (21 GMT).
Once the company resumes, it will take several days for the supply chain to return to normal. Some of the markets followed by the Colonial Pipeline may endure or proceed to experience intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period.
However, the company agreed to supply "as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as safely possible and will proceed to do so until markets turn to normal."
According to the specialized portal GasBuddy, this Wednesday, there was a fuel shortage at service stations in states such as Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, and even the District from Columbia, where Washington DC is
North Carolina, with 68% of gas stations dry, and South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, with 42%, suffered the most significant impact.
The Governments of North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia declared a state of emergency to meet the surge in demand and lift some measures to facilitate fuel transportation.
The situation is more pressing in cities such as Greenville (North Carolina) and Spartanburg (South Carolina), where 78% of the stations have stopped operating, as well as in Pensacola (Florida) and Charlotte (North Carolina), which They are already suffering the closure of 73% and 71%, respectively, of the supply points.
Colonial revealed in a statement Tuesday that it has delivered through carriers about 967,000 barrels of fuel (about 41 million gallons) destined for cities such as Atlanta, Georgia, Belton and Spartanburg, South Charlotte, and Greensboro, Carolina. North), Baltimore (Maryland), Woodbury and Linden (New Jersey)
US President Joe Biden tried early Wednesday to reassure Americans, saying his administration officials were "in very, very close contact" with the company.
The Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has relaxed regulations on fuel transportation and temporarily waived clean air rules in all affected states to alleviate shortages.
Relief for motorists
Colonial Pipeline operates the most extensive pipeline system in the United States, shipping gasoline and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the populous East Coast through 8,850 kilometers of pipelines serving 50 million consumers.
According to gas price tracking site GasBuddy, restoring supplies will be a relief for motorists who sparked a buying spree that caused thousands of gas stations to run out of fuel.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average price of a gallon (3.78 liters) of fuel was close to $ 3 for the first time since November 2014, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urged consumers Wednesday to remain calm.
We understand the concern that exists, and we have not wasted time taking action, he told reporters at the White House. Storage doesn't make things better.
The FBI blamed the DarkSide group for Friday's cyber attack. The hackers locked the company's computer systems and demanded a large sum of money to free them.
But according to a report published Wednesday in The Washington Post, Colonial Pipeline has no intention of paying the ransom.
Instead, it is working with a cybersecurity firm to rebuild its systems or restore them from backups, according to the report, which cites people close to the case.