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    Colonial pipe managing some shipments


The outage of the major US fuels pipeline caused panic buying at the consumer level.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Colonial pipe managing some shipments

The company behind the Colonial fuels pipeline feeding the US East Coast market said May 11 it was making progress on a full restart, adding some product was still reaching shippers.

The website for the company Colonial Pipeline was taken offline May 11 in an apparent cyberattack. That followed a ransomware attack May 7 that idled operations on a pipeline that meets about half of the East Coast’s demand for refined petroleum products such as gasoline and jet fuel.

Laterals were in service earlier this week, though fears of a widespread gasoline shortage prompted long lines at retail fuelling stations, largely along the southeast US coast. The company said that since the pipeline went offline last week, it still managed to deliver about 967,000 barrels of product to markets in Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The full capacity is closer to 2.5mn b/day.

“Colonial Pipeline continues to make forward progress in our around-the-clock efforts to return our system to service, with additional laterals operating manually to deliver existing inventories to markets along the pipeline,” a company statement read. “Markets experiencing supply constraints and/‚Äčor not serviced by other fuel delivery systems are being prioritised.”

The cyberattacks led the federal government to form an inter-agency task force to investigate the incident. Speaking May 11, US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm stressed that parts of the pipeline were brought back online and there was no need for panic buying at the consumer level.

“Let me emphasise that, much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline, especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend,” she said.

Commodity prices were up on May 12, but that was likely a reflection of the 2.5mn-barrel draw on commercial crude oil inventories reported by the American Petroleum Institute, rather than a premium stemming from the Colonial outage.