More than a thousand fuel stations in the Southeast have sounded the alarm on gasoline and diesel shortages caused by panic buying and shuttered pipelines, the Associated Press reports, citing analysts.
The panic was provoked by the ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial pipeline system at the end of last week, with operations along the network yet to be fully restored.
NPR quoted an AAA spokeswoman as saying gas prices were already rising, as the network remained shut for the fourth day in a row.
"They have gone up as high from anywhere from three to 10 cents overnight," Tiffany Wright said.
While thousands of Americans are unable to fill up, the government continues to quibble about whether the lack of gasoline should be referred to as an “outage” or a “supply crunch”.
One gas station employee from South Carolina said their pumps were empty as people rushed to stock up on gasoline after learning of the outage.
The Department of Energy tweeted early today that officials were working around the clock with federal, state, and local authorities to speed up the restart of the pipeline system that supplies close to half of the fuels that the East Coast consumes.
Meanwhile, refiners on the Gulf Coast are scrambling for available tanker capacity to stock their fuel offshore. Refiners are also booking vessels to ship fuel to destinations such as the Far East, Brazil, and the Caribbean. As a result, tanker rates are going through the roof.
The Colonial pipeline system is the biggest pipeline infrastructure in the United States, running 5,500 miles from Houston to Linden, New Jersey, carrying some 2.5 million barrels of gasoline and diesel daily.
It was hacked on Friday by a group known as DarkSide, which this week said in a statement it had not meant to cause problems for the general population. The group targets corporations, using ransomware to block their systems and only release them after a ransom is paid.
“Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society. From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future,” DarkSide said in the statement, as quoted by CNBC
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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