HOUSTON — The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers nearly half the transportation fuel to the Southeast and New York area, resumed full operations on Saturday, eight days after it was shut down by a ransomware attack.
It will still take days before gasoline stations around Washington, D.C., and the Southeast return to normal service, since nearly 2,000 outlets ran out of fuel and it takes time to restock.
Prices at the pump have stabilized, though. Average prices of regular gasoline in Tennessee and South Carolina, two of the hardest hit states, rose by only a penny on Saturday, according to the AAA motor club. Nationwide, gasoline prices remained stable at $3.04, eight cents higher than a week ago. Prices in the states most affected by the shutdown rose by as much as 20 cents a gallon in the last week.
“We have returned the system to normal operations, delivering millions of gallons per hour to the markets we serve,” the operator of the pipeline said on Twitter.
The fuel artery, one of the nation’s largest, carries refined gasoline and jet fuel over 5,500 miles of pipe from Texas up the East Coast to New York. It was shut down a week ago Friday. By last Tuesday, the shutdown had touched off a surge of panic buying. Long lines appeared at gas stations as drivers filled up not only their vehicles but cans and plastic bags.
The federal authorities have linked the ransomware attack to a criminal hacking group called DarkSide, based in Eastern Europe and possibly Russia. The attack targeted Colonial Pipeline’s information systems, locking up computer systems and holding data hostage. Colonial quietly paid the extortionists nearly $5 million in Bitcoin to recover its stolen data.
On Friday, DarkSide said it was shutting down because of unspecified “pressure” from the United States.