(Reuters) – The US government and a US fuel line operator worked on Monday to secure the network, which transports nearly half of the East Coast's deliveries as a shutdown to stop a ransomware cyber attack into a fourth day.
The attack on the Colonial Pipeline Co. Last week, one of the most disruptive digital redemption systems ever reported, sent shock waves across the industry. The resulting shutdown has disrupted fuel supplies throughout the eastern United States, triggered isolated sales restrictions on retail pumps and pushed the gasoline benchmark to a three-year high.
USA. Legislators called for stronger protection for critical U.S. energy infrastructure, and the White House has made restarting the fuel network a top priority and organizing a federal working group to assess the effects and avoid more serious disruptions.
The southeastern United States would probably be the first to see price increases for retail pumps, and demand has already increased as drivers fill their tanks. Southeast is the most dependent on the line and has fewer options than states further north and has seen prices increase during previous shutdowns.
"My biggest concern, as far as the consumer goes, is that you end up running out of gas at the gas station, which further exacerbates what's happening at the terminals," said Andrew Lipow, president of consultants Lipow Oil Associates LLC.
While the U.S. government's investigation into the attack is at an early stage, a former U.S. official and three industry sources said the hackers are suspected of being a cybercrime group called DarkSide.
Cyber security experts said the group appears to be made up of veteran cybercriminals who focus on squeezing as much money as possible from their targets.
Colonial said on Sunday that it was restarting some smaller lines between fuel terminals and customer delivery points but its main lines remained closed. It did not provide a timeline for a complete restart of 5,850 miles (8,850 km).
The pipeline system is the primary fuel artery from the Gulf Coast refineries to the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern states. It moves over 2.5 million barrels per day with petrol, diesel and jet fuel, which delivers motorists and major airports. the shutdown. It may take further action if the interruption continues.
Traders temporarily booked at least six tankers to transport gasoline from Europe to US destinations after the attack. However, two European petrol retailers said that the market took a cautious stance to see how long the shutdown would last.
The line supplies aviation fuel to major airports, including the nation's busiest Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta. The airport expects the disruption to be resolved before any impact on flights, a spokesman said.
An alternative, smaller channel serving the same region has already been filled. Kinder Morgan Inc.'s 720,000 bpd fuel line had been working with customers to pick up additional volumes since Friday and reached full capacity in May on Sunday, a spokeswoman told Reuters.
If the disruption extends, fuel suppliers would need to use trucks and railroads to transport fuel to compensate. wrote in a note.
Gulf Coast Refinery Valero Energy Corp. chartered a tanker to store fuel offshore that it could not pump through the pipeline, and other refineries wanted to do the same, said market participants.