Sat | Jun 19, 2021

Gas crunch continues across much of US after pipeline hack

Published:Thursday | May 13, 2021 | 12:11 PM
A customer helps to pump gas at Costco as others wait in line on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations last week after revealing a cyberattack that it said had affected some of its systems. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

CLEMMONS, North Carolina (AP) — Gas pumps remained shrouded by plastic bags Thursday at thousands of service stations across more than a dozen US states, despite a pipeline company's claims of “substantial progress” in restarting its supply line.

Nearly 70% of North Carolina's gas stations were still without fuel, as were about half the stations in South Carolina and Georgia, GasBuddy.com reported.

Drivers on the East Coast were also having trouble, with more than half the stations tapped out in Virginia and Washington, DC, the site's tracking service showed.

In a Thursday update, Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline said gasoline delivery is now underway in most of its markets.

The pipeline stretches from Texas to New Jersey, but the northeastern US has seen fewer disruptions since those states are supplied more by other sources such as ocean tankers.

Gas is flowing again across most of the Deep South, and other parts that were offline in the Mid-Atlantic region were expected to become operational later Thursday, the company said.

“We are not out of the woods yet, but the trees are thinning out,” Richard Joswick, global head of oil analytics at S&P Global Platts said in an email.

He estimates that full recovery for the East Coast and Gulf Coast will take a couple of weeks at least due to lags and limits for all shipping options.

The cybersecurity attack on the Colonial Pipeline forced a temporary shutdown of the nation's largest fuel pipeline, prompting panic buying and long lines that quickly wiped out supplies around the southeastern US.

The company resumed pipeline operations late Wednesday, but said it would take several days for deliveries to return to normal.

The run on gas had North Carolina tow-truck driver Jonathan King worried about whether he could do his job.

“I drive all over the place,” King said at a packed gas station outside Winston-Salem on Wednesday.

“It gets really busy. And yeah, with the fuel going the way it's going, it's going to be very hard for us. Hopefully we'll be able to get through it.”

The governors of both North Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency to help ensure access.

Other governors urged people not to hoard supplies.

Mary Goldburg, 60, of Norfolk, Virginia, said she needs her car for work but also to see her grandchildren — whom she barely got to see last year.

Her job includes delivering T-shirts for events and other promotional products.

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