Colonial pipeline begins slow restart
The operator of the cyber-targetted Colonial fuels pipeline said it will take several days for service to return to normal, even after it said May 12 that it initiated a restart.
A ransomware attack May 7 idled operations on the 8,800-km long pipeline that meets nearly half of the demand for refined petroleum products along the East Coast. A cyberattack this week shut down the operating company’s website.
Some service was returned manually early in the week. Late on May 12, the company said it initiated the restart of pipeline operations, but added the process would be a slow one.
“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period,” the company said. “Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.”
A federal inter-agency task force was formed almost immediately after the ransomware attack last week. Speaking after the restart announcement, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the federal government offered temporary waivers from the Jones Act, a piece of protectionist legislation that increases domestic port-to-port shipping costs because of the mandate to use US-made and -operated vessels.
“This waiver will enable the transport of additional gas and jet fuel between the Gulf Coast and East Coast ports to ease supply constraints,” she said.
Elsewhere, Psaki announced that president Joe Biden issued an executive order to improve cybersecurity. Members of the Senate energy and commerce committee added the cyberattack served as a lesson learned about vulnerabilities for essential US infrastructure.
“We learned that while there is good reason to be hopeful that the shortages will be temporary and pipeline deliveries may soon ramp up, there is more we need to do to ensure DOE has the tools it needs to prevent these incidents in the future – and minimise their impact if they do,” bipartisan leaders said in a joint statement. “We will continue to work closely with DOE in their efforts to help bring the pipeline back online quickly and safely.”