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Colonial Pipeline Restarts, But Gas Outages Expected to Linger for Several Days

Fuel storage replenishment is hindered by lack of tanker truck drivers and slow pipeline flow.
Low fuel

NATIONAL REPORT — The Colonial Pipeline relaunched operations during the evening of May 12, ending a six-day shutdown due to a cyberattack on its computer systems.

"Colonial Pipeline has made substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system and can report that product delivery has commenced in a majority of the markets we service," the company stated. "By mid-day [Thursday], we project that each market we service will be receiving product from our system."

However, it is likely to take days to restore gasoline supplies to normal levels. In recent days, panic buying led to fuel shortages in multiple states, as Convenience Store News previously reported. Despite pleas from government leaders, drivers waited in long lines along the East Coast to fill up their gas tanks and, in same cases, spare gas cans for fear of long-term fuel shortages.

As of Thursday morning, 71 percent of gas stations in North Carolina were out of gasoline, along with 55 percent in Virginia and 49 percent in Georgia, according to GasBuddy data. This followed "limited overnight improvement" since the restart of the pipeline, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

Major cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., are seeing some improvement, he added.

"What you're feeling is not a lack of supply or a supply issue. What we have is a transportation issue," said Jeanette McGee, spokeswoman for AAA. "There is ample supply to fuel the United States for the summer, but what we're having is an issue with is getting it to those gas stations."


To help move fuel faster, the Biden Administration authorized a temporary and targeted waiver of the Jones Act, which will allow foreign vessels to sail from the Gulf Coast to the Eastern Seaboard, potentially easing supply crunch.

The Colonial Pipeline itself flows at just five miles per hour, meaning it will take some time for the markets it supplies to replenish normal levels of fuel storage.

Following the pipeline's initial restoration of service, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to implement stronger cybersecurity standards, among other related initiatives.

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