In theory, the Colonial Pipeline is once again sending gasoline to states along the East Coast that have been parched after a cyberattack shut down the 5,500-mile pipeline.
As of 4:41 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, 45 percent of Georgia’s gas stations were out of fuel. Tennessee had 29 percent of its stations still dry, while Florida was at 26 percent.
The hard-hit Carolinas were slow to fill up, with 65 percent of North Carolina stations out of fuel and 48 percent of South Carolina stations without gas. Virginia also experienced 45 percent of its gas stations reporting they were out of fuel.
The pipeline began flowing again on Thursday but the company warned that it would take time to return to normal.
“Colonial Pipeline has continued to make substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system. We can now report that we have restarted our entire pipeline system and that product delivery has commenced to all markets we serve,” Colonial Pipeline Company said in a statement.
“Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during this start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal,” the company said.
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Colonial paid $5 million to a hacking group known as DarkSide to regain control of the pipeline.
Some said that will lead to more ransomware attacks, in which hackers seize control of a company’s data or servers until they are paid.
“I can’t say I’m surprised, but it’s certainly disappointing,” Brett Callow, a threat analyst at Emsisoft (an anti-virus company), said, according to Wired.
“Unfortunately, it’ll help keep United States critical infrastructure providers in the crosshairs. If a sector proves to be profitable, they’ll keep on hitting it,” he said.
“You shouldn’t pay, but if you don’t have a choice and you’ll be out of business forever, you’re gonna pay,” Adam Meyers, the vice president of intelligence at security firm CrowdStrike, said.
“In my mind, the only thing that’s going to really drive change is organizations not getting got in the first place. When the money disappears, these guys will find some other way to make money. And then we’ll have to deal with that.”
But for now, drivers can expect that by the Memorial Day holiday, the amount of fuel available at gas stations will be back to normal.
“The restart of the pipeline is very positive news for motorists,” AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee said in a statement Thursday, according to The Times.
“While impact won’t be seen immediately and motorists in affected areas can expect to see a few more days of limited fuel supply, relief is coming.”
But the gas shortage also sent prices rising. The average national price of a gallon of regular gasoline, according to AAA, currently sits at nearly $3.04.
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