Cyberattack On Major Pipeline Could Push Gas Prices to Their Highest Level Since 2014

Cropped shot of a handsome young man refuelling his car at a gas station.
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If you’re planning a road trip during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, you might face the highest gasoline prices in seven years as the country’s biggest gasoline pipeline deals with disruptions from a cyberattack.

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Industry analysts say the national average of prices at the pump could push above $3 a gallon — something that hasn’t happened since 2014 — thanks to a combination of the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, creeping inflation and a surge in demand as the U.S. economy emerges from COVID-19 restrictions.

Average gas prices already hovered at $2.96 a gallon late last week, Bloomberg reported over the weekend, citing data from the AAA auto club. Those prices could rise even higher if disruptions last much longer at the downed Colonial Pipeline, a major artery that transports more than 100 million gallons of gasoline and other fuel daily from Houston to the New York Harbor.

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Colonial Pipeline shut down its operations on Friday following the ransomware attack. A criminal group from Russia named “DarkSide” is believed to be responsible for the attack, according to a Monday article from CNN, which cited an unnamed former cyber official.

On Sunday, Colonial Pipeline Company said it is working on a restart plan for its pipeline system. Its main lines were still offline early Monday, though some of its smaller lines between terminals and delivery points were operational. The company is also working to restore affected IT systems.

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Meanwhile, a federal government’s response is being conducted by the Department of Energy, FBI and Department of Homeland Security. A federal emergency was declared on much of the East and Gulf Coasts in response to the pipeline shutdown. In response to that declaration, tanker truck drivers will now be allowed to work longer hours than normal.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte MagazineStreet & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, will be published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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