Colonial Pipeline restarts after hack, but supply chain won’t return to normal for a few days

Fuel tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline Baltimore Delivery in Baltimore, Maryland on May 10, 2021.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline restarted operations Wednesday at approximately 5 p.m. ET following days of halted operations, but the company warned that it would still take several days for the system to be fully operational.

“Following this restart it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal,” Colonial said in a statement. “Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. 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,” the company added.

The majority of the Colonial Pipeline, which operates the largest fuel transmission line from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast, has been offline since Friday. The company shut down its systems as a proactive measure after it fell victim to a ransomware attack by a criminal group known as DarkSide.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday afternoon to expect some “good news” from the company in the next 24 hours, saying the White House has been in “very close” contact with the company.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm previously said that the company would make a restart decision by the end of the day on Wednesday.

The pipeline is a critical part of U.S. petroleum infrastructure, transporting around 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil and jet fuel. The pipeline stretches 5,500 miles and carries nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply. The system also provides jet fuel for airports, including in Atlanta and Baltimore.

Gas prices have moved higher in the wake of the pipeline’s shutdown, and the national average topped $3 per gallon on Wednesday for the first time since 2014. Some areas in the Southeast are also running short on fuel as consumers head to the pump, in many cases panic buying.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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