May 12, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Colonial Pipeline restarting service after hack

Photo of a parking lot filled with backed up cars

Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline is restarting operations around 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced.

Why it matters: At least 11 states and Washington, D.C., have experienced gas shortages since a ransomware attack forced the critical pipeline running from Texas to New York to shut down on Saturday.

What they're saying: "Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

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

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ben Geman: The crisis is an early test of the White House's ability to manage energy supply disruptions. It’s also a stark reminder of the vulnerability of increasingly digitized energy systems.

  • The cyber breach will likely put pressure on federal agencies and Congress to harden defenses in the country’s sprawling networks of pipelines, electricity grids, power plants, petrochemical facilities and other energy infrastructure.

How we got here: Colonial Pipeline carries 45% of the East Coast’s fuel supplies. The company shut down 5,500 miles of its pipeline after last week's cyber attack.

  • The national average for gasoline prices soared to its highest level for the first time in six years following shortages, and triggered panic across several states.

The big picture: The event underscored the fact that no company is safe from ransomware, exposing the nation's ransomware pandemic, Axios' Felix Salmon and Ina Fried write.


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