(OPINION) ETH – Did you react calmly when you learned that a cyberattack against one of our most important pipelines was causing thousands of gas stations to run out of gasoline? Sadly, lots of Americans didn’t.
There was yelling, there was screaming, there was lots of hoarding, vehicles were waiting in line for hours at stations that still had gas, and there were reports that brawls were even breaking out between frustrated motorists. Even though we knew that the shortages were just going to be temporary, people were “panic buying” gasoline as if the apocalypse had arrived.
In fact, one energy expert said that this was “the worst panic buying for gasoline since the Carter Administration”… “This is the worst panic buying for gasoline since the Carter Administration,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.
Kloza said outages at more than 10,000 gas stations are spreading “like a bad rash” on the East Coast. Much of the problem is people are buying gasoline at twice the normal rate in the Florida peninsula, as well as in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For some individuals, just filling up their tanks with gasoline was not enough. Motorists began to fill up any containers that they had on hand with gasoline, and some of the things we witnessed were incredibly stupid.
For example, you should never, ever try to fill up plastic bags with gasoline. I know that sounds obvious, but apparently, so many people were doing this that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission felt that it had to send out a tweet telling people to stop. The more gas stations that ran dry, the worse the panic buying frenzy became. At first, we were told that 1,000 stations were out of gas, and then it was 2,000 stations, and finally, we were told that more than 10,000 stations were out. In certain major cities, nearly all of the gas stations have run dry.
Just check out these numbers… The supply crunch appears to be much worse in some major metro areas. GasBuddy reported outages Wednesday morning impacting 71% of the stations in metro Charlotte, nearly 60% in Atlanta, 72% in Raleigh, and 73% in Pensacola. All of this happened because a single pipeline got shut down by a cyberattack. The Colonial Pipeline is 5,500 miles long, and it supplies approximately half of the gasoline for the east coast.
On Wednesday evening, the company finally announced that operations were restarting, but they warned that it is going to take several days for things to “return to normal”… Colonial Pipeline initiated the restart of pipeline operations today at approximately 5 p.m. ET.
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. 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. But something doesn’t add up here.
The pipeline is being restarted, but the company has announced that it has absolutely no plans to pay the ransom to the hackers… Colonial Pipeline reportedly has no plans to pay rumored $5 million-plus ransom to Russian hackers who have paralyzed the key gas pipeline, as President Joe Biden vows to get the fuel crisis ‘under control’ with pressure mounting on his administration to do more. Do the hackers no longer pose a threat to the pipeline? READ MORE