Colonial Pipeline launches restart after six-day shutdown

The Colonial Pipeline launched the rest...

Posted: May 13, 2021 9:17 AM
Updated: May 13, 2021 9:17 AM

The Colonial Pipeline launched the restart of its operations Wednesday evening following a six-day shutdown caused by a ransomware attack, but the pipeline's operators warned it will take several days for service to return to normal.

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

The Colonial Pipeline will move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel "as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal," the company said.

The restart can't come soon enough. The shutdown sparked panic-buying and hoarding that has overwhelmed gas stations in the Southeast. A significant percentage of gas stations in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are without fuel, according to GasBuddy, which tracks fuel demand, prices and outages.

The Colonial Pipeline took itself offline Friday after suffering a ransomware attack. The 5,500-mile pipeline is responsible for carrying fuel from refineries along the Gulf Coast to New Jersey. It provides nearly half the gasoline and diesel consumed by the East Coast, making it perhaps America's most important pipeline.

Oil industry executives warned Wednesday that gas hoarding by Americans during the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline is worsening the supply crunch.

"This situation is now being exacerbated by panic buying and hoarding," Frank Macchiarola, an executive at the American Petroleum Institute, said during a press briefing.

Executives also called on the White House to grant waivers that would allow foreign ships to send fuel to the East Coast to meet skyrocketing demand following the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

The restart should begin to help ease the shortages.

"It means the worst is over in terms of the hysteria that I've called GuzzleGate," Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, told CNN Business in an email.

Kloza said the first priority is to restart Line 1, which pumps gasoline from Texas and Louisiana to Greensboro, North Carolina.

"The crest of the outages comes perhaps tomorrow or Friday," said Kloza, adding Friday is always the busiest day of the week for gasoline sales.

While the shortage should resolve fairly quickly, "motorists could help the situation by holding off for a day or two to let stations refuel faster," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in an email.

"Now finally Americans can have some peace of mind that gasoline, diesel and jet fuel will begin flowing to affected areas once again," De Haan said.

Still, the issue won't resolve immediately.

"The restarting of the Colonial Pipeline is the beginning of the end of the crisis, not the end of the end of the supply crunch," Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy for RBC Capital Markets, said in an email. "With an operational pipeline, the race to logistically replenish regional and localized gas stations is the next step."

As the Colonial Pipeline starts to resume service, "our primary focus remains safety," the company said in its Wednesday statement.

"As part of this startup process, Colonial will conduct a comprehensive series of pipeline safety assessments in compliance with all Federal pipeline safety requirements," it said.

The company also expressed thanks to the White House for its "leadership and collaboration," along with the Department of Energy, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government agencies.

In recent days, Biden administration officials privately voiced frustration with what they see as Colonial Pipeline's weak security protocols and a lack of preparation that could have allowed the ransomware group DarkSide to carry out the attack, officials familiar with the government's initial investigation into the incident told CNN Tuesday.

In the weeks leading up to the attack, Colonial Pipeline had been looking to hire a cybersecurity manager.

In the wake of the attack, cybersecurity experts said, Colonial likely took all of its systems offline in order to isolate what the bad actors had accessed and ensure they weren't able to move into other parts of the company's network.

People briefed on the matter also told CNN that the company halted operations because its billing system was compromised and they were concerned they wouldn't be able to determine how much to bill customers for fuel they received.

One person familiar with the response said the billing system is central to the unfettered operation of the pipeline. That is part of the reason getting it back up and running has taken time, this person said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320292

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22299271
Hinds20782424
Harrison18455317
Rankin13933282
Jackson13740249
Madison10276225
Lee10068176
Jones8475167
Forrest7845153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6524150
Lamar636688
Lafayette6315121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4842133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4610148
Marshall4576105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc426173
Monroe4163136
Union415977
Neshoba4066180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3374111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314771
Adams308586
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292468
Prentiss284461
Leake272474
Marion271480
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232469
Winston230382
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210759
Holmes190574
Stone188833
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135547
Greene131934
Lawrence131424
Montgomery128943
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126542
Carroll122330
Webster115132
Jefferson Davis108534
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79218
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549394

Reported Deaths: 11328
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810851571
Mobile42180832
Madison35733524
Tuscaloosa26186460
Shelby25638255
Montgomery25103615
Baldwin21921314
Lee16301176
Calhoun14725329
Morgan14650286
Etowah14192364
Marshall12465230
Houston10798289
Elmore10302214
Limestone10191157
St. Clair10166251
Cullman9975201
Lauderdale9621250
DeKalb8978190
Talladega8467184
Walker7351281
Autauga7244113
Jackson6993113
Blount6957139
Colbert6418140
Coffee5650128
Dale4931116
Russell455241
Chilton4476116
Franklin432082
Covington4283123
Tallapoosa4137155
Escambia402380
Chambers3731124
Dallas3609158
Clarke353361
Marion3264107
Pike314878
Lawrence3135100
Winston283672
Bibb268664
Geneva258782
Marengo250566
Pickens237062
Barbour234460
Hale227078
Butler225071
Fayette219763
Henry194844
Randolph187744
Cherokee187545
Monroe181041
Washington170639
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156157
Cleburne153744
Lamar147237
Lowndes142154
Wilcox126830
Bullock124642
Conecuh113830
Coosa112129
Perry108826
Sumter106032
Greene93734
Choctaw62125
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 92°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 97°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 87°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 92°
Temperatures heat up significantly into your Thursday as humidity flows into the region. This combination will lead to some dangerous heat index values as well as a few thunderstorms. Most will end up staying rain-free. But all of us will endure the heat.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather