After a cyberattack caused the nation’s largest pipeline to shut down over 5,500 miles of distribution infrastructure, Colonial Pipeline (CPL) is back up and has resumed normal operations. The company was forced to shut down the pipeline on Friday, May 7th, and, after of week of restoring capacity, is now delivering millions of gallons of fuel each hour across the United States.
The company stated that the pipeline is now able to service all of their markets including those hardest hit by the outage – such as Texas, Louisiana, and much of the southeast. While the pipeline has resumed normal operations, there are still outages in many markets as suppliers work to shore up a week’s worth of supply shortage. Georgia and South Carolina alone still have over 40% of gas stations completely out of fuel, and North Carolina has just dropped below 60% of stations without fuel.
Colonial paid an estimated $5 million to the cybercriminals responsible for the attack, a group known as DarkSide, as ransom in order to get back into their systems and to resume pipeline operations. While the company has received significant backlash from the industry for “negotiating” and paying the ransom, Colonial was out of options at the time unless they wanted to wait even longer for the FBI and other federal agencies to resolve the security breach.
The supply shortage caused by the cyber-attack has led to significant volatility in wholesale and retail fuel prices – with supply and demand imbalances’ being exacerbated by spiking transportation costs. The Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division announced that over 400 complaints of price gouging at retail gas stations have been recorded. While fuel prices in the southeast have been settling right around $3, those numbers have been much higher in Georgia specifically with some areas in the range of $3.90 to $4.00 per gallon. In response, Georgia announced strict penalties for price gouging over the weekend in order to discourage those marketers wishing to capitalize on the situation. Meanwhile, retail, commercial, and government consumers are still struggling to fulfill demand until fuel and transportation dynamics normalize.