The source of nearly half of the United States East Coast’s fuel supply shut down when Colonial Pipeline suffered a cyber-attack. Sources indicate that the top U.S. pipeline operator’s attack originated from a criminal group from Russia named “DarkSide,” reports CNN on Sunday, May 9, 2021.
Colonial Pipeline shut down on Friday to contain the cyber-attack threat that was caused by ransomware. Doing so, temporarily suspended operations. It also affected some of its IT systems.
The company moves 2.5 million barrels per day through 5,500 miles of pipelines that link the Gulf Coast to the eastern and southern states. Its products include gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined products.
On Sunday evening, the company said it was working to create a restart plan for its pipeline system which was stopped due to the cyber-attack. The main lines are still offline whereas some of the smaller lines are now operational. Colonial said their full system will be back online when it is safe and with the approval of all federal regulations.
An interagency working group was formed over the weekend to be prepared for various contingencies. Part of the focus is to determine if additional steps need to be taken to alleviate any potential impact on the nation’s fuel supply resulting from the cyber-attack.
The Department of Energy is working in conjunction with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
Early Monday morning, Roger Read, a market analyst outlined three possible restart date ranges. The best-case scenario is the company recovers from the cyber-attack within the next few days. He told CNBC News that if the pipeline is fully back online by Wednesday there will not be any lasting impact on the oil market.
If Colonial Pipeline remains shut down for up to 10 days, inventory will rise in the Gulf Coast causing prices to fall but the prices on the East Coast would jump. There might even be shortages beginning to appear along the coast.
In the event, the plant is shut down for more than 10 days, the market should expect significant fuel shortages in the interior Southeastern United States.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Bloomberg: Cyber-Attack Shuts Down Biggest Gasoline Pipeline in U.S.; by Michael Jeffers and William Turton
Reuters: Cyber attack shuts down top U.S. fuel pipeline network; by Christopher Bing and Stephanie Kelly
CNN: Criminal group originating from Russia believed to be behind pipeline cyberattack; by Geneva Sands and Arlette Saenz
CNBC News: A major U.S. pipeline is still mostly shut due to a cyberattack. Here’s what you need to know
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