Gas futures ticking up after cyberattack shuts down pipeline

Colonial pipeline cyberattack
Posted at 11:52 AM, May 10, 2021

NEW YORK — The shutdown of the pipeline that carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast is continuing, and gasoline futures are ticking upward.

According to the Colonial Pipeline, the company was a "victim of a cybersecurity attack" on Friday. The system quickly went offline, preventing the transportation of fuel to the East Coast.

As of Sunday evening, the mainlines of the system remained offline, though some "smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational."

The company that operates the pipeline said it would attempt a "system restart plan" in the hopes of regaining control.

On Monday morning, the FBI said in a statement that it was "working closely with the company and our government partners" regarding the shutdown.

The Biden administration says an “all-hands-on-deck” effort is underway to restore operations and avoid disruptions due to the cyberattack that led to the shutdown. As part of that effort, the Transportation Department is loosening regulations over the transport of petroleum products on highways.

At a press briefing on Monday afternoon, Anne Neuberger, Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, said that Colonial is currently in the "remediation phase" after she was asked if the attack is still ongoing.

People close to the extortion investigation are pointing to a criminal gang known as DarkSide as the culprit. While the FBI has been investigating that strain of malware since October, Neuberger said the "intent" of the group — whether financial or a deliberate attack on U.S. infrastructure — is still unknown.

She added that the FBI is "looking into" whether DarkSide had connections to Russia or other eastern European countries, though it had not found evidence yet that the organization was connected to such entities.

Gasoline prices ticked higher early Monday. The Colonial Pipeline delivers roughly 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to the company.

At the daily White House press briefing on Monday, homeland security adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall said that the U.S. is not currently experiencing a gasoline shortage, but is preparing in the event that there may be one. She added that Colonial did not believe there was damage to the pipeline and thought it could get it back online "relatively quickly."