Gas stations watching the fallout from fuel pipeline attack: 'A lot of uncertainty'

Posted at 4:33 PM, May 11, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- As the shutdown of a major fuel pipeline entered into its fifth day, companies and government officials took steps to stave off potential fuel shortages, although no widespread disruptions of fuel supplies were reported Tuesday morning.

Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit by a cyberattack on Friday.

“In Virginia, we have one source really for our petroleum products and that’s the Colonial Pipeline," Mike O'Connor, with the Virginia Petroleum and Convenience Marketers, said. "We’re not sure when that’s going to re-open and consequently that’s creating the short-term supply problem and distribution problem we are seeing today.”

Some gas stations in Central Virginia are posting they were out of gas, others had very long lines of drivers hoping to fill up, and others had no wait at all.

“We’re really dependent upon what’s left in storage," O’Connor said. "There’s a little bit still being pumped through there. No one seems to know how much, so there’s a lot of uncertainty for us, for consumers, for commerce in general."

Dale Bennett, with the Virginia Trucking Association, said his group's 290 members were being impacted in two ways -- as the transporters of fuel to gas stations and as users of fuel to drive.

Both the Federal Government and EPA have issued waivers to help the situation.

“The federal government has allowed a waiver of hours of service to allow tanker drivers to work some longer hours," Bennett said. " The EPA has issued a waiver as far as the gasoline blends that are usually required."

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Tuesday in an effort to mitigate issues that could arise following a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline.

Under the state of emergency, state agencies now have the power to issue waivers to make it easier to transport fuel. It also "provides increased flexibility and funding for state and local governments to ensure adequate fuel supply," according to the governor's office.

“This emergency declaration will help the Commonwealth prepare for any potential supply shortages and ensure Virginia motorists have access to fuel as we respond to this evolving situation,” Governor Northam said in a statement.

Colonial Pipeline restored some fuel delivery service by Tuesday, but the main artery of the pipeline remained shut down. Colonial has said it anticipates restoring the majority of its service by the end of the week.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.



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