Business & Economy

Biggest US fuel pipeline network resumes operations after cyberattack

Washington, May 12 (EFE).- Colonial, the company that runs the largest US fuel pipeline network, announced Wednesday that it has resumed operations after suffering a ransomware attack last week.

The company, which delivers 45 percent of the fuel consumed on the US East Coast through its 5,500-mile pipeline network, began fuel shipments once again about 5 pm.

Colonial Pipeline Co. had had to shut down its operations on Saturday after being hit with a ransomware attack the day before, an attack apparently mounted by cyberpirates belonging to the DarkSide group based in Eastern Europe or Russia, according to the FBI.

Despite resuming operations, Colonial said in a statement posted on its Web page that it will take several days for the supply chain to return to normal.

Thus, it warned that some markets to which it provides service could suffer or continue to experience interruptions in fuel shipments during the next few days.

Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia are especially vulnerable because their options are limited regarding fuel transportation alternatives, but Gulf Coast states can obtain fuel shipments by sea using tankers.

Nevertheless, the company said that it intends to ship gasoline, diesel fuel and aviation fuel as safely and securely as possible and will continue doing so until it can get its operations back to normal.

The firm also emphasized that its priority will be safety and security, and it will be making safety evaluations throughout the pipeline network.

Colonial’s fuel pipelines, which span the southeastern US from Texas to New Jersey, transport up to 2.5 million barrels of fuel of various kinds from refineries along the Gulf of Mexico to the Eastern US.

This vital infrastructure was subjected to a ransomware attack, a computer attack that blocks access to a firm’s computers until the company pays a ransom to the cyberpirates to unblock them.

Fuel supply had dwindled in the Eastern US as of Wednesday due to the interruption of Colonial operations and some consumers were panicking.

Media outlets broadcast images of long lines of vehicles at gas stations in many parts of the country.

According to the specialized Web portal GasBuddy, on Wednesday there were fuel shortages reported at gas stations in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky and even the District of Columbia, among other locations.

A few minutes before Colonial’s announcement, President Joe Biden had said that he expected “good news” on the matter within the next 24 hours adding that the situation would once again be “under control.”

The Washington Post reported that Colonial had no plans to pay any ransom and that it was working with a cybersecurity firm to restore the blocked data from its backup systems.


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