The Denver Post

Gas shortages reported amid pipeline hack

- By Cathy Bussewitz, Jeff Amy and Bobby Caina Calvan

More than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast reported running out of fuel — primarily because of what analysts say is unwarrante­d panicbuyin­g among drivers — as the shutdown of a major pipeline by a gang of hackers entered its fifth day Tuesday.

Government officials acted swiftly to waive safety and environmen­tal rules to speed the delivery of fuel by truck, ship or rail to motorists and airports, even as they sought to assure the public that there was no cause for alarm.

The Colonial Pipeline, the biggest fuel pipeline in the U.S., delivering about 45% of what is consumed on the East Coast, was hit on Friday with a cyberattac­k by hackers who lock up computer systems and demand a ransom to release them. The attack raised concerns about the vulnerabil­ity of the nation’s critical infrastruc­ture.

A large part of the pipeline resumed operations manually late Monday, and Colonial anticipate­s restarting most of its operations by the end of the week,

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.

Motorists may still feel a crunch because it takes a few days to ramp up operations, but she said there is no reason to hoard gasoline.

“We know that we have gasoline; we just have to get it to the right places,” she said.

S&P’s Oil Price Informatio­n Service put the number of gas stations encounteri­ng shortages at more than 1,000.

“A lot of that is because they’re selling three or four times as much gasoline that they normally sell in a given day, because people do panic,” said

Tom Kloza, an analyst with S&P.

The pipeline runs from the Texas Gulf Coast to the New York metropolit­an area. The states most dependent on the pipeline include Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, Kloza said.

In Virginia, 7.7% of the state’s nearly 3,900 gas stations reported running out of fuel Tuesday, according to Gasbuddy.com. In North Carolina, 8.5% of almost 5,400 stations were out, the company said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam both declared a state of emergency Tuesday.

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