Gas Prices Hit Highest Rate in 6 Years After Cyberattack Paralyzes Pipeline

The national average retail gasoline price has hit its highest rate since 2014 as the Colonial Pipeline tries to recover from a recent cyberattack.

Gas stations along the East Coast are also reportedly running out of fuel along the length of the pipeline, the largest of its kind in North America.

The White House released a statement Monday saying it was watching the situation and "has directed agencies across the Federal Government to bring their resources to bear to help alleviate shortages where they may occur."

The Southeast region of the country was said to be particularly hit hard by the gas shortage, which has caused the national gas price average to rise to $2.985 a gallon, the highest since November 2014, according to the American Automobile Association.

The Colonial Pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast in Texas to New Jersey, and along the system's more than 5,500 miles it services such metropolitan areas as New York City and Atlanta. When fully functioning, it ships 2.5 million barrels per day from refiners to consumers.

The pipeline operator stopped shipments on Friday to prevent hackers from turning off or damaging the system itself. On Monday, the company said it planned for most operations to be back up and running by the end of the week.

With large sections of the Colonial Pipeline shut down with only small segments operating, cities and airports are being forced to rely more heavily on alternative methods of transport, such as trucks or fuel tankers (the latter for locations close enough to water).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday said a ransomware gang known as DarkSide is responsible for the cyberattack. It's not known how much money the hackers have demanded and if Colonial has paid or will pay them anything.

President Joe Biden indicated on Monday that there is no evidence that the Russian government was involved with the cyberattack, although he stopped short of calling the Kremlin blameless.

"I'm going to have a conversation, I'm going to be meeting with President Putin," Biden said. "And, so far, there is no evidence based on, from our intelligence people, that Russia is involved, although there is evidence that the actor's ransomware is in Russia. They have some responsibility to deal with this."

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Preskov also denied his government had any involvement.

"Russia has nothing to do with these hacker attacks, nor with the previous hacker attacks," he told the Russian news agency TASS on Tuesday.

"We categorically reject any accusation against us, and we can only regret that the US is refusing to cooperate with us in any way to counter cyberthreats."

The Colonial Pipeline distributes gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, and these supplies suddenly being shut down or limited comes at a time when the country is once again returning to on-site work and beginning to vacation more following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gas pumps
Stock photo of gas pumps. A cyberattack has caused a fuel shortage that's resulted in high gas prices. Getty