Gas Price Crisis Averted as Colonial Says Pipeline Running Again After Hack

The Colonial Pipeline resumed operations on Wednesday evening, while warning that it would still take "several days" for the gasoline supply chain to recover amid rising prices at the pump.

Colonial Pipeline announced the restart in a statement issued shortly after 5 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). Around the same time, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted the news after getting off the phone with Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount.

"Colonial Pipeline initiated the restart of pipeline operations today at approximately 5 p.m. ET," the company said in its statement. "Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.

"Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period," the statement continued. "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."

The company added that its "primary focus remains safety" during the restart, promising to "conduct a comprehensive series of pipeline safety assessments in compliance with all Federal pipeline safety requirements."

Colonial said that the "the first step in the restart process" would not have been possible without the "around-the-clock support" of employees, while also thanking the White House, the Department of Energy and other federal and local agencies for their support.

Less than an hour before the restart, President Joe Biden told reporters that he expected "good news" about the pipeline to come within 24 hours. Earlier in the week, the company said that it had set a goal of "substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week," adding that "a phased approach" would be used.

Last Friday's ransomware attack against Colonial, by the Russian-speaking hacker group DarkSide, was not directly targeted at the pipeline itself. The attack hit Colonial's corporate systems not related to fuel delivery but over 5,500 miles of pipeline were shut down as a precaution since it was unclear whether the ransomware could migrate to more critical systems.

DarkSide posted an unusual apology for attacking Colonial on the dark web, saying that it had not intended to create "problems for society" while insisting that its only "goal is to make money." The hackers also promised to "introduce moderation" intended to prevent "social consequences in the future."

Gas prices surged in many areas following the shutdown, while some consumers resorted to panic buying over supply fears along the East Coast. Thousands of gas stations in Southeastern states had run out of gas by Wednesday, with pumps reportedly going dry at a majority of stations in North Carolina and the Atlanta, Georgia metro area.

Newsweek reached out to Colonial Pipeline for comment.

colonial pipeline resumes operations
Colonial Pipeline announced on Wednesday evening that it had resumed operations following a ransomware hack. This photo shows how out of order notes are left on gas pumps to let motorists know the pumps are empty at a Shell gas station in Arlington, Virginia on May 12, 2021. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty