The East Coast’s gasoline shortages began to alleviate on Sunday, with 1,000 more outlets receiving supplies as the country’s main fuel pipe lines rebounded from a severe hack.
The six-day shutdown of Colonial Pipeline’s 5,500-mile (8,900-kilometer) system was the largest damaging cyberattack on record, blocking millions of barrels of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from hitting fuel tanks across the Eastern United States.
Thousands of fuel stations ran out of fuel when shipments failed to show up, and drivers worried about a protracted outage filled tanks and jerry cans. Refiners and fuel distributors are racing against the clock to recover before the Memorial Day holiday weekend at the end of May, which marks the customary start of the prime summer driving season.
“Colonial Pipeline is currently shipping at normal rates, based on shipper nominations,” company spokesman Eric Abercrombie said in an email. “It will take some time for the supply chain to fully catch up.”
According to the tracking firm GasBuddy, around 80% of pumps in Washington, D.C. were remained empty.
According to GasBuddy statistics, more than half of the stations in North Carolina were still lacking fuel, while less than half of the stations in South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia are still without gasoline.
According to GasBuddy, gasoline consumption in the United States fell over 15% from a week ago on Saturday as drivers reduced fuel stockpiling.
Panic purchasing resulted in shortages in certain places not covered by the pipeline.
Per the American Automobile Association, average countrywide gasoline prices are at their highest level since 2014, with a gallon of normal unleaded costing $3.04 on Sunday, up from $2.96 a week earlier.
As panic purchasing subsided and stations refilled supplies, total outages fell to 12,405 from 13,450 on Saturday and a high of more than 16,000, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. In the United States, the world’s top oil user, there are around 150,000 gas stations.
“Every day, gasoline supplies are getting better as Colonial operates at capacity and additional oil tankers from the Gulf Coast make their way to the East Coast,” said Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
Citgo and Valero Energy Corp. were among the refiners granted Jones Act waivers to supply petroleum through waterborne boats from the United States Gulf Coast, easing the gasoline shortage.
Following a six-day outage, administrators of the Colonial system, which delivers 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel daily from Texas refineries to East Coast markets, began restoring operations on Wednesday.
Colonial, located in Alpharetta, Georgia, said it will begin its usual nomination process to assign capacity to customers who use the line on Monday.
DarkSide, the gang accused of hacking Colonial Pipeline’s systems, claims to have recently infiltrated four additional businesses. Last week, a website it used to communicate went offline.
Websites linked to two other ransomware gangs unrelated to the Colonial breach were also down on Sunday, indicating a possible retreat during the hunt for criminals, according to Allan Liska of cybersecurity company Recorded Future.
“This is a disruption,” he said of the groups’ lower profile, adding: “I don’t think it’s going to be a permanent disruption.”