Update: Pipeline Operations Resume After Cybersecurity Attack Disruption — But Panic Ensued Anyway

Earlier today — at approximately 5:00 in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 — Colonial Pipeline Company initiated the restart of operations of its main pipeline, which was disrupted by a cybersecurity attack which involved ransomware last week.

Update: Pipeline Operations Resume After Cybersecurity Attack Disruption — But Panic Ensued Anyway

Gasoline Station Lines

No prices on the sign means that this service station is out of gasoline — but diesel fuel is still available. Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

“The FBI confirms that the Darkside ransomware is responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks”, according to this official statement by the the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. “We continue to work with the company and our government partners on the investigation.” DarkSide is a relatively new but very organized professional group of veteran cybercriminals which is reportedly linked to Russia and focused on extorting as much money as possible from their targets via digital means.

“Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal”, according to this official press release from Colonial Pipeline Company. “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.”

Colonial Pipeline Company claims in this official statement to have delivered approximately 967,000 barrels — or approximately 41 million gallons — of refined fuel to various delivery points along its system, which includes delivery into the Atlanta, Georgia; Belton, South Carolina; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; Woodbury, New Jersey; and Linden, New Jersey markets.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done.

Panic Ensues

In addition to reports that airlines added fuel stops to what were otherwise nonstop flights to and from the southeastern United States, many service stations in no fewer than 14 states have been depleted of their supplies of refined fuel due to people who allowed panic to set in — and at fuel stations which still have gasoline, prices have increased by at least 30 cents per gallon in areas such as Atlanta…

…and the panic has taken the form of hoarding fuel — as well as reports of fights breaking out at gasoline pumps in states such as North Carolina.

This is all sheer idiocy, in my opinion.

Summary

Gasoline Station Lines

Cars wait in line in a panic by motorists to have their tanks filled before this service station is depleted of gasoline. Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

Hopefully, this lunacy of people needlessly panicking will subside. The panic is what exacerbated the shortage of refined fuel. I am convinced that without the panic which ultimately ensued, supplies may have been less than usual but still available to those people who truly need them…

…and Colonial Pipeline Company needs to invest its profits in ensuring that its pipelines are as secure as possible so that an incident similar to this one never happens again — and if that is not possible, then investments in decentralized alternative energy sources need to be considered.

This incident is certainly not the first time which the Colonial Pipeline was disrupted.

All photographs ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “Update: Pipeline Operations Resume After Cybersecurity Attack Disruption — But Panic Ensued Anyway”

  1. Barry Graham says:

    After what happened with panic last year, this is hardly surprising!

  2. NB_ga says:

    To be fair, we have no public transportation in metro Atlanta and driving is a necessity to function around here. Had everyone just filled up a main vehicle, we would have been fine. The crazy came from people filling up every car/truck/motorcycle they have plus every gas can (and plastic bag!) they could get their hands on.

    1. Barry Graham says:

      I agree, but I thought that the crazy filling up was exactly what Brian was referring to?

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