OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The Southeast of the United States is heading down a dark path following the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.
Even with Colonial set to restore systems by the weekend, shortages have already materialized as people panic hoard.
The Biden administration announced on Monday evening that it’s “working with” Colonial Pipeline to try and restart operations after a ransomware attack took it offline.
Friday night’s cyberattack is “the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure” known to have occurred in the U.S., notes energy researcher Amy Myers Jaffe, per Politico.
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a regional emergency declaration for 17 states and Washington, D.C., to keep fuel supply lines open.
The emergency declaration covers: Alabama, Arkansas, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Colonial Pipeline carries 45% of fuel supplies in the eastern U.S.
Around 5,500 miles of the pipeline has been shut down in response to the attack.
Below is an image of the pipeline:
While gasoline and diesel prices aren’t expected to be impacted if pipeline operations resume in the next few days, fuel suppliers are becoming “increasingly nervous” about possible shortages, Bloomberg notes.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said there’s an “all hands on deck” effort to resume operations.
“We are working closely with the company, state and local officials, to make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible and there aren’t disruptions in supply,” she told CBS’ John Dickerson.
However, the real panic has yet to begin.
As millions of Americans are waking up for work, hopping into their vehicle across the Southeast, and are hearing fuel shortages on the radio — many will soon be faced with this reality.
Many Americans will soon be driving down the street and see rising fuel prices, signs at pumps that either read shortage or pump restrictions, or even see some gas stations closed.
In Jackson, Mississippi, WJTV’s Anna Farish reported gas shortages on Tuesday morning.
— Anna Farish (@annaonair12) May 11, 2021
One Twitter user reports one gas station is placing “limits” on fuel in Central Alabama.
WCNC’s Billie Jean Shaw from South Carolina reports: “Good morning y’all! There’s a gas shortage throughout the Carolinas due to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline. These are pics from a gas station in S. CLT. Join me on #WakeUpCLT, I have the rundown on when all of this is expected to be over b/c it’s annoying. @wcnc.”
Good morning y’all! There’s a gas shortage throughout the Carolinas due to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline. These are pics from a gas station in S. CLT. Join me on #WakeUpCLT, I have the rundown on when all of this is expected to be over b/c it’s annoying. 😩 @wcnc pic.twitter.com/EfD2zMJWGP
— Billie Jean Shaw (@BillieJeanTV) May 11, 2021
WSOC’s Greg Suskin reports a gas station in South Carolina has entirely run out of gas, except for diesel.
People waiting to fuel up at one gas station in Plymouth, North Carolina.
— Fly on the wall (@InsideSedition) May 11, 2021
U.S. average retail gasoline prices have soared on the disruption, almost touching $3/gallon, the highest since 2014.
BREAKING: US average retail gasoline price jumps to a 6½-year high of $2.985 a gallon, per @AAAnews data. Retail gasoline prices are already >$3 per gallon in 16 states, plus DC | #OOTT Our latest story on the #ColonialPipelineHack and its impact is here: https://t.co/iIsJwEXlLS pic.twitter.com/JcqLqVECWt
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) May 11, 2021
The shortage continues to develop. We are assuming the craziness is just beginning.