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Hacked Pipeline May Stay Shut for Days, Raising Concerns About Fuel Supply

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Colonial Pipeline fuel tanks in Maryland.

The shutdown of the largest petroleum pipeline between Texas and New York has had little impact on supplies of gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel -- so far.

Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Shutterstock

The operator of the largest petroleum pipeline between Texas and New York, which was shut down after a ransomware attack, declined on Sunday to say when it would reopen, raising concerns about a critical piece of infrastructure that carries nearly half of the East Coast's fuel supplies.

While the shutdown has so far had little impact on supplies of gasoline, diesel or jet fuel, some energy analysts warned that a prolonged suspension could raise prices at the pump along the East Coast and leave some smaller airports scrambling for jet fuel.

Colonial Pipeline, the pipeline operator, said on Sunday afternoon that it was developing "a system restart plan" and would restore service to some small lines between terminals and delivery points but "will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so."

The company, which shut down the pipeline on Friday, acknowledged on Saturday that it had been the victim of a ransomware attack by a criminal group, meaning that the hacker may hold the company's data hostage until it pays a ransom. Colonial Pipeline, which is privately held, would not say whether it had paid a ransom. By failing to state a timeline for reopening on Sunday, the company renewed questions about whether the operations of the pipeline could still be in jeopardy.

From The New York Times
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