Government working to make sure gas supply is not impacted by Colonial Pipeline cyberattack

Tom Abrahams Image
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Pipeline cyberattack closure causes panic among driver
The aftermath of a cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline could increase gas prices, and we could even see a shortage. But the federal government is getting involved in order to make sure that doesn't happen.

The images are stunning. Lines of cars in North Carolina and in Georgia as drivers react to the threat of a supply shortage because of the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline- the conduit from southeast Texas that delivers 45% of the gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel to the east coast. David Braziel is the CEO of RBN Energy, a consulting and strategy firm. Their well-read blog detailed the issues with the pipeline closure today.

"Retail prices are certainly shooting up. Some states are up 10 cents or more," Braziel told ABC13. "People are not used to seeing pipelines in the news. I've had people come up to me and talk to me about pipelines who I haven't ever talked to about oil and gas. So everybody has this top of mind, especially if you're in one of the affected markets."

The cyberattack on the pipeline's systems from an eastern European hacker group has laid bare the vulnerabilities in our infrastructure and how people will react no matter where in the supply chain the impacts hits us in the future.

SEE ALSO: Ransomware attack shuts down massive 5,500-mile pipeline that transports 45% of East Coast's fuel

"Cyberwar, as we often like to call it, is a real thing and it's going on all the time," said editor-at-large for technology publication CNET, Ian Sherr. "It's going to cause people to panic about what they do with the next thing that could be shut down. Is our energy grid impacted? Could our water supply be impacted? All of these types of questions are going to come up. And, unfortunately, the answer is they are vulnerable to attack."

WATCH: Could Houston see gas shortage due to pipeline cyberattack?

Colonial Pipeline officials hope most of its service will be back by the weekend after a cyberattack forced it to shut down. But while we wait, what does that mean for areas struggling to get their tanks filled?

The federal government is doing what it can to mitigate the associated problems with the temporary closure of the pipeline which stretches from Houston through 14 states and ends in New Jersey.

"There is going to be likely little to no impact to our supply in Houston and across Texas," said AAA Texas spokesperson Joshua Zuber. "While the pipeline is shut down, there are other delivery alternatives already in the works. This includes foreign gasoline imports and other pipelines which will most likely supplement northeastern supply. "

SEE ALSO: Houston experts say cyberattacks could impact more companies unless safeguards taken

The pipeline supplies almost half of the gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel to the east coast. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm spoke about the issue at the White House Tuesday.

"We are going to continue to assess impact along the east coast and in particular parts of the southeast," said Secretary Granholm. "I've had several conversations with the CEO of Colonial and who has indicated that by close of business tomorrow Colonial will be to make the full restart decision. "

SEE ALSO: Colonial Pipeline officials hope most service will be back by weekend after ransomware hack

The Department of Transportation is also involved. It is requesting qualified maritime vessels for additional transport, allowing extra hours for drivers transporting fuel in 17 states and DC, checking for additional transport capacity via rail, and assisting Colonial Pipeline in efforts to resume operations.

But if the pipeline isn't up and running soon, the crunch all of the drivers on the east coast fear could become reality.

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