The Colonial Pipeline is offline. What does it mean for Virginia?

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Fuel tanks for the Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest fuel arteries in the nation. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Colonial Pipeline)

STATEWIDE — There’s a line at 7-Eleven and it’s not because it’s National Free Slurpee Day. Drivers are scrambling to fuel their vehicles in response to the recent cyberattack against one of the nation’s largest pipelines. 

The Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from Texas to New Jersey, announced on Saturday, May 8 that the company discovered that it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack involving ransomware on May 7. 

Certain systems were then taken offline to contain the threat, but this also halted all pipeline productions.

“Our primary focus continues to be the safe and efficient restoration of service to our pipeline system, while minimizing disruption to our customers and all those who rely on Colonial Pipeline,” the company stated in a May 10 news release.

Colonial Pipeline also announced that it is working with a third-party cybersecurity firm to investigate the attack and to bring its systems back online safely. 

While the pipeline works on its cybersecurity, the company announced that markets experiencing supply constraints or are not serviced by other fuel delivery systems are being prioritized. Colonial Pipeline is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to evaluate market conditions to support prioritization.

A map of the Colonial Pipeline.(WYDaily/Courtesy of Colonial Pipeline)

This means shippers have been brought to the forefront as a way of delivering fuel to various markets along the east coast. Colonial Pipeline has delivered approximately 967,000 barrels (about 41 million gallons) to various delivery points. 

“Additionally, in preparation for our system restart, we have taken delivery of an additional 2 million barrels (~84 million gallons) from refineries for deployment upon restart,”

However, news of the pipeline cybersecurity attack has sparked panic for drivers, resulting in many going out to buy gas, leaving many stations without enough fuel to meet the demand. 

Yesterday, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia to address gasoline supply disruptions throughout the Commonwealth.

RELATED STORY: Gov. Northam Declares State of Emergency After Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Cyberattack

So what should you do?

Do not panic to buy gas, Virginia Department of Emergency Management said in a Facebook post today. 

“This can create spot shortages at stations, which is what we don’t want to happen,” it said. 

The operator of the Colonial Pipeline is expected to announce later today a timetable for resuming service. 

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