North America’s biggest petroleum pipeline is in a race against time to overcome a paralyzing cyber-attacks as gas station supplies dwindled and North Carolina declared a state of emergency with cars lining up for fuel.
Colonial Pipeline said it’s manually operating a segment of the pipeline running from North Carolina to Maryland and expects to substantially restore all service by the weekend. The pledge may not come fast enough to avert immediate shortages in the southeast, where gas station employees are already reporting lines for fuel.
Stations in Asheville, North Carolina, are out of fuel and lines are forming at outlets that still have supplies. David Marcos, an employee at a Royal Dutch Shell Plc-owner station in the city said they ran out of gasoline and diesel earlier on Monday
The Marathon gas station in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, had roughly two dozen cars waiting to fuel up, said Channs Arnett, an employee there. The stations in town are all packed, Arnett said over the phone, where the door bell chimes from people entering could be heard every other minute.
The conduit has been shut down since late Friday, prompting frenzied moves by traders and retailers to secure alternative supplies. On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation pointed the finger at a ransomware gang known as DarkSide. The pipeline hasn’t suffered any physical damage and no fuel shortages have been detected, a White House official said.
Colonial Chief Executive Officer Joe Blount and a top lieutenant assured Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk and state-level officials on Monday that the company has complete operational control of the pipeline and won’t restart shipments until the ransomware has been neutralized.
In an 18-minute virtual meeting, Blount said shortages may develop in some markets but said Colonial is working with refiners, marketers and retailers to prevent those, according to a person involved with the meeting who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the discussion.