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Gas stations in southeast report supply shortage as major pipeline remains shut down

Gas station gas shortage
Posted at 5:12 AM, May 12, 2021

CHAMBLEE, Ga. — More than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast reported running out of fuel, primarily because of what analysts say is unwarranted panic-buying among drivers, as the shutdown of a major pipeline by hackers entered its fifth day.

GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan reported Wednesday that the increased demand has driven the national average for a gallon gasoline to above $3 a gallon for the first time in nearly seven years.

De Haan also reports that gasoline shortages are mostly concentrated in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. According to his analysis, 25% of all gas stations in North Carolina are currently without gas.

On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in the Sunshine State due to gas shortages in the state. According to GasBuddy, about 3% of gas stations in the state are currently without fuel.

Earlier this week, government officials acted swiftly to waive safety and environmental rules to speed the delivery of fuel by truck, ship or rail to motorists and airports. Even so, they sought to assure consumers that there was no cause for alarm.

The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, has been down since Friday after its computer systems were hit by a cyberattack on Friday.

The company that operates the pipeline says it's working toward “substantially restoring operational service” and expects it to be fully operational by this weekend.

In a statement issued late Monday night, the White House said it is "evaluating every action the Administration can take to mitigate the impact as much as possible." The statement also said that Biden has directed several government agencies "to bear to help alleviate shortages where they may occur."

The FBI says the criminal syndicate whose ransomware was used in the attack is named DarkSide, whose members are Russian speakers.

Russia denies any involvement.

While the FBI has been investigating that strain of malware since October, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology Anne Neuberger said during a press briefing on Monday that the "intent" of the group — whether financial or a deliberate attack on U.S. infrastructure — is still unknown.