Even with the full service restored, gasoline stored in Houston will take about two weeks to reach East Coast gas stations.
America’s largest pipeline returns to operation and recovers from a cyber attack on Friday that raised bomb prices and stifled fuel supply in the eastern US
The Colonial Pipeline, a critical source of gasoline and diesel for the New York area and the rest of the East Coast, was due to restart around 5 p.m., Eastern Time, according to a company statement.
The Alpharetta-based operator, Georgia, said over the weekend that it was forced to disconnect the systems on May 7 in response to the ransomware attack. Even with the full service restored, gasoline stored in Houston will take about two weeks to reach East Coast gas stations.
Florida gas stations in Virginia are drying up. In parts of the southern United States, three out of four gas stations ran out of fuel as of Wednesday, while in Washington, DC, cars lined up in blocks as they waited to fill up.
U.S. bomb prices have topped $ 3 a gallon for the first time in six years. Every day, Colonial sends approximately 2.5 million barrels (105 million gallons), an amount that exceeds all of Germany’s oil consumption.
Supply disruptions underscore the vulnerability of the U.S. fuel supply system in the wake of attacks on energy infrastructure by hackers in recent years.
Colonial was just the latest example of critical ransomware target infrastructure. Hackers are increasingly trying to infiltrate essential services such as power grids and hospitals.
Growing threats prompted the White House to respond last month with a plan to increase security for utility companies and their suppliers. Pipelines are a specific concern because of the central role they play in the U.S. economy.
The Colonial attack came just as the nation’s energy industry is preparing to travel in the summer and when fuel demand is picking up from pandemic-related blockades.
It was reminiscent of a 2018 cyberattack that dropped a third-party communications system used by several pipeline operators across the United States. That attack did not stop actual gas flows, but delayed utility billing and made it difficult to forecast supplies for traders. .
The Federal Bureau of Investigation attributed the breach to ransomware created by a group called DarkSide. Some evidence emerged linking DarkSide with Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. President Joe Biden said Russia has “some responsibility” to tackle the attack, but stopped blaming the Kremlin, saying there was “evidence” that the hackers or software they used were “in Russia.” .
It’s not the first time Colonial has been forced to close. In 2016, an explosion kept the system offline for days, raising gasoline prices and forcing the New York port market to depend more on fuel imports from abroad.
Colonial has the capacity to send about 2.5 million barrels a day in its system ranging from Houston to North Carolina and 900,000 more barrels a day to New York.
Ransomware cases involve hackers sowing networks with malicious software that encrypts data and leaves machines locked until victims pay the extortion commission, which can range from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars in cryptocurrency.
Information technology networks of utility companies, which perform e-mail and other routine functions, and operational technology networks, which control the actual operation of the electricity or natural gas supply, are usually kept separate, which which made Colonial’s decision to temporarily stop both so unusual.