Gas Shortage Update as Fuel Scramble Continues Across U.S. Despite Colonial Pipeline Resuming

People are continuing to scramble for gas across the Southeast after a cyberattack on the nation's largest fuel pipeline prompted fuel hoarding and panic buying.

Colonial Pipeline restarted operations on Wednesday evening, days after it was forced to shut down due to a ransomware attack. But the company said it will take "several days" for deliveries to return to normal.

The Georgia-based company's pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan region, and delivers about 45 percent of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.

The disruption has drained supplies at thousands of gas stations across at least a dozen states plus Washington, D.C., even as officials urged people not to hoard gas and purchase only what they need.

10pm CT: As expected, outages moving mildly higher. Expecting limited improvement overnight, but not major improvements yet. % of stations without gas:
AL 9%
DC 42%
DE 5%
FL 29%
GA 50%
KY 3%
LA 0%
MD 31%
MS 6%
NC 74%
NJ 1%
SC 53%
TN 27%
TX 0%
VA 56%
WV 6%

— Patrick De Haan ⛽️📊 (@GasBuddyGuy) May 13, 2021

In North Carolina, 74 percent of gas stations were out of fuel as of 10 p.m. CT on Wednesday, according to analyst Patrick De Haan.

Haan earlier tweeted: "I'm optimistic the situation will resolve quickly, motorists could help the situation by holding off for a day or two to let stations refuel faster."

I'm optimistic the situation will resolve quickly, motorists could help the situation by holding off for a day or two to let stations refuel faster. This is terrific news ahead of what is likely to be a very hot summer for demand.

— Patrick De Haan ⛽️📊 (@GasBuddyGuy) May 12, 2021

The state's governor, Roy Cooper, has urged people in his state to report price gouging and to purchase fuel only when needed.

He told CNN's Jake Tapper on Wednesday that the shortage was largely due to panic buying, with people purchasing far more fuel than they usually would after hearing about the cyberattack.

"I've seen pictures of people putting gas into canisters. Not only does that keep gas from other people who really need it, it also is very dangerous," Cooper said.

"We're encouraging people not to do that, do not hoard gasoline. We believe this problem is going to be fixed soon."

After Colonial announced it was restarting operations, Cooper tweeted: "This news is another reason people do not need to panic buy gas right now unless they really need it."

Large numbers of gas stations in other states along the East Coast were also out of fuel on Wednesday night.

In Georgia, it was 50 percent, while South Carolina saw 53 percent of gas stations without gas. Virginia had 56 percent of gas stations running dry on Wednesday night.

.@DHSgov will approve a temporary and targeted Jones Act Waiver in response to eastern seaboard oil supply constraints. My statement:

— Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (@SecMayorkas) May 13, 2021

In a bid to ease supply constraints, Homeland Security Security Alejandro Mayorka on Wednesday announced a temporary waiver of the Jones Act, a national security law that requires all goods shipped between U.S. ports to be be transported on vessels that are American crewed, built, and owned.

The waiver "will enable the transport of additional gas and jet fuel between the Gulf Coast and East Coast ports to ease supply constraints," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement early Thursday.

Psaki added that Biden and the White House will continue to monitor the situation and "continue to urge Americans to just purchase what they need, and not hoard fuel, as supply is restored."

The FBI on Monday identified DarkSide, a criminal syndicate with ties to Russia, as the hacking group responsible for the attack on Colonial.

Motorists line up in North Carolina
Motorists line up at an Exxon station selling gas at $3.29 per gallon soon after it's fuel supply was replenished in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 12, 2021. Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images