Already on the rise, recent cyber attack could send gas prices higher

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Colonial Pipeline took lines 1,2,3, and 4 offline due to a cyberattack. The fuel provider supplies the Southeast and the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The company’s plan to reconnect the lines is ongoing. The most recent updates can be found on a briefing page on its website.

Here is an update on Monday:

Colonial Pipeline continues to dedicate vast resources to restoring pipeline operations quickly and safely. Segments of our pipeline are being brought back online in a stepwise fashion, in compliance with relevant federal regulations and in close consultation with the Department of Energy, which is leading and coordinating the Federal Government’s response.

Restoring our network to normal operations is a process that requires the diligent remediation of our systems, and this takes time. In response to the cybersecurity attack on our system, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems. To restore service, we must work to ensure that each of these systems can be brought back online safely.

While this situation remains fluid and continues to evolve, the Colonial operations team is executing a plan that involves an incremental process that will facilitate a return to service in a phased approach. This plan is based on a number of factors with safety and compliance driving our operational decisions, and the goal of substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week. The Company will provide updates as restoration efforts progress.

We continue to evaluate product inventory in storage tanks at our facilities and others along our system and are working with our shippers to move this product to terminals for local delivery. Actions taken by the Federal Government to issue a temporary hours of service exemption for motor carriers and drivers transporting refined products across Colonial’s footprint should help alleviate local supply disruptions and we thank our government partners for their assistance in resolving this matter.

Our primary focus continues to be the safe and efficient restoration of service to our pipeline system while minimizing disruption to our customers and all those who rely on Colonial Pipeline. We appreciate the patience of the traveling public and the support we have received from the Federal Government and our peers throughout the industry.

Colonial Press Release 12:25 pm Monday, May 10

What to expect

What is clear, Ohio should not be affected by the shutdown, at least where the supply of fuel is concerned. The pipeline runs through these states:

Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey.

AAA and Gasbuddy.com each encourage motorists not to “panic buy.”

  • Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible avoid high-traffic times of the day
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey
  • Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than for larger models
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor
  • In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunscreen to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning (and thus fuel) to cool down the car

Prices on the rise

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Gas prices have been on a steady increase before the cyber attack. With more people heading back to work and traveling around the country, the demand for fuel has risen. Therefore, the prices have also.

According to AAA, prices will climb this week in reaction to the Colonial Pipeline shutting down four of its main lines, which delivers 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel. During the past week, gas prices have risen by six cents nationally and averaged $2.96. In 2014, gas prices averaged 2.99.

“This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally. Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee, and the east coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson in a news release. “These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.”

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