U.S. largest fuel pipeline reopens after six-day shutdown by cyberattack

Colonial, the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, restarted operations on Wednesday evening (May 12) after being shut down for six days by a ransomware attack, although the operator said it will take several days to resume normal service.

Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience or continue to experience intermittent service disruptions during the start-up period,” Colonial said in a statement.

The statement added that the Colonial pipeline will deliver “as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as safely possible until market supplies return to normal.”

Gas stations in the U.S. Southeast were overwhelmed by panic buying and hoarding triggered by the Colonial pipeline outage. A significant percentage of gas stations in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina have run out of fuel, according to GasBuddy, which tracks fuel demand, prices and outages.

The Colonial Pipeline, which connects the Gulf Coast to the Northeast, is about 5,500 miles and is responsible for transporting about 45 percent of the fuel on the East Coast. The pipeline was shut down last Friday to protect the system after it became the subject of a ransomware cyberattack.

Oil industry executives warned Wednesday that Americans stockpiling fuel during the Colonial pipeline shutdown is worsening the supply crunch.

Frank Macchiarola, an executive with the American Petroleum Institute, told a news conference that the supply situation was exacerbated by panic buying and hoarding, and he called on the White House to issue a waiver to allow foreign ships to deliver fuel to the East Coast to meet soaring demand following the closure of the Colonial Pipeline.