The U.S. Department of Transportation declared a regional emergency waiver on transportation of fuel in 18 states after the Colonial Pipeline was hit by a ransomware cyber-attack.
The Colonial Pipeline, which carries 2.5 million barrels of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel daily, or 45 of the East Coast’s supply, was completely shut down as a result the of ransomware attack.
The hackers locked the data on some computers and servers, demanding a ransom.
“Quickly after learning of the attack, Colonial proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat. These actions temporarily halted all pipeline operations and affected some of our IT systems, which we are actively in the process of restoring,” the Alpharetta, Georgia-based company said in a statement.
Colonial Pipeline’s all four main lines remain offline, while some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational.
The company said it has taken additional precautionary measures to help further monitor and protect the safety and security of its pipeline.
“We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations,” it added.
USDOT announced that to avoid disruption of supply, its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking steps to create more flexibility for motor carriers and drivers.
FMCSA issued a temporary hours of service exemption to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
In the wake of the emergency status, drivers in these states can work extra or more flexible hours when transporting these essential commodities.
Amid reports that large quantity of fuel remains stranded in Texas refineries, experts say fuel prices are likely to increase due to the disruption in supply.
The Colonial Pipeline Company, the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, ships gasoline and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the East Coast through 5,500 miles of pipeline, catering 50 million consumers.
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