By Erica Thomas, managing editor
Fear of fuel shortages and higher gas prices are causing panic in some parts of the southeast after a cybersecurity attack on Colonial Pipeline.
The pipeline, which carries gas from Texas to New Jersey, was shut down after the attack.
On Monday, Colonial Pipeline announced that Line 4, from Greensboro, NC to Woodbine, MD, was operating under manual control.
“As previously announced, while our main lines continue to be offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational as well,” Colonial released in a statement. “We continue to evaluate product inventory in storage tanks at our facilities and others along our system and are working with our shippers to move this product to terminals for local delivery.”
Also Monday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency, suspending motor vehicle fuel regulations to ensure adequate fuel supply.
The attack involved ransomware and Colonial has been in contact with federal law enforcement. The FBI identified the hackers as a Russian group called “Darkside”. Malware was responsible for the attack and the group said it wasn’t trying to cause “social consequences” but rather make money.
Colonial Pipeline was forced to shut down operations after learning about the hack on May 7. The company is now working to restore those operations.
“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,” Colonial said.
The company said it is continually evaluating product inventory and is working with shippers to move products for local delivery.
“Our primary focus continues to be the safe and efficient restoration of service to our pipeline system, while minimizing disruption to our customers and all those who rely on Colonial Pipeline,” the statement continued. “We appreciate the patience of the traveling public and the support we have received from the Federal Government and our peers throughout the industry.”
Experts are urging consumers to not panic, as panic can cause a shortage that would otherwise be non-existent.
ABC News reported that the executive director for cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Eric Goldstein, said a resolution is expected before any shortages are noticed.
Although there could be some issues with getting gas delivered to some service stations, other experts say they expect little to no impact on gas prices.
In short, panic will only cause the problems to get worse, similar to the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.