73% of Washington, D.C., Gas Stations Without Fuel as Colonial Pipeline Resumes Operation

Up to 73 percent of gas stations in Washington, D.C., are still without fuel after a cyberattack shut down the Colonial Pipeline last week and halted operations at the nation's largest fuel pipeline.

Though operations resumed Thursday on the pipeline, gas pumps remained shrouded in plastic bags across several states, including Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, the Associated Press reported.

The pipeline, which stretches from Texas to New Jersey, delivers up to 45 percent of the fuel consumed on the East Coast. After a ransomware attack created a halt in fuel supplies last Friday, panicked drivers rushed to pumps across several states, resulting in severe shortages and inflated gas prices throughout the week. The Georgia-based pipeline company said Thursday that gasoline delivery is underway in most of its markets, though experts predict a full recovery will take a few more weeks.

Colonial Pipeline
Fuel-holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline's Dorsey Junction Station in Washington, D.C., on May 13. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Despite signs of progress in restarting the pipeline, nearly 70 percent of North Carolina's gas stations on Thursday 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.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that U.S. officials do not believe the Russian government was involved in the Colonial Pipeline hack, but "we do have strong reason to believe that the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia. That's where it came from."

The U.S. had been in direct communication with Moscow about the need to take action against ransom networks, Biden said. The FBI has said the ransomware belonged to a criminal syndicate known as DarkSide.

In a Thursday update, the pipeline company said 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.

"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 because of lags and limits for all shipping options.

The governors of both North Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency to help ensure access. Other governors urged people not to hoard supplies.

"Now that Colonial has restarted pipeline operations, we will see a gradually increasing return to normal conditions that will take several days," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement Thursday.

The distribution problems have been fraying nerves. Two people were charged with assault after spitting in each other's faces over spots in a line at a Marathon station in Knightdale, outside Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

In Walton County, Georgia, paramedic Jeff Lisle had just under a quarter-tank of gas in his Jeep and found a small amount in the cans he uses for his lawnmower in case he needed the extra boost to get to work.

The shutdown even affected hikers long the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. They depend on cars and vans to access the trail and get supplies.

"Everybody's out here buying from the same gas pumps, so the lines are long, some are out. You've really got to look for it," said Ron Brown, who operates Ron's Appalachian Trail Shuttles, which takes hikers from Atlanta's airport into the north Georgia mountains.

Colonial Pipeline Out of Fuel sign
An "Out of Fuel" sign taped to the window at an Exxon gas station in Lynchburg, Virginia, on May 11. More than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast reported running out of fuel, primarily because of what analysts said was unwarranted panic buying. Kendall Warner/The News & Advance via AP/Associated Press