ATLANTA – The operator of the country’s largest gasoline pipeline, which was hit by a ransomware attack earlier this week, announced Saturday that it had resumed “normal operations” and delivered fuel to its markets, including much of the east coast .
Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline began resuming pipeline operations Wednesday evening, warning it could take several days for the supply chain to return to normal.
“Since that time we’ve got the system back up and running, delivering millions of gallons per hour to the markets we serve,” Colonial Pipeline said in a tweet on Saturday. These markets include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
“All of these markets are now getting products from our pipeline,” the company said, noting that its employees throughout the pipeline “worked safely and tirelessly around the clock to get our lines up and running.”
The gas shortage, which spread from the south and extended to the drainage stations in Washington, DC, has improved since a peak Thursday evening. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told The Associated Press on Friday that the nation was “overwhelmed” by a lack of gas and about 200 stations were being reopened every hour.
“It will still work its way through the system for the next few days, but we should be back to normal pretty soon,” she said.
Several stations in Raleigh, North Carolina, ran out of gas on Saturday. Driver Jermaine Barnes told CBS17 the shortage made him more conservative in his travels.
“I don’t go places I don’t have to go,” he said. “I don’t visit people. I watch where I am going. I’m doing everything differently right now. “
Martha Meade, manager of public relations and government relations for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said many gas stations in the Virginia area were running out of gas as of Saturday. But she said “the lines have narrowed since the height of the crisis” and “the panic buying has subsided”.
Multiple sources confirmed to The Associated Press that Colonial Pipeline paid the criminals who committed the cyber attack nearly $ 5 million in cryptocurrency ransom for the software decryption key required to decrypt their data network.
The ransom – 75 bitcoin – was paid last Saturday, the day after the criminals locked down Colonial’s corporate network, according to Tom Robinson, co-founder of cryptocurrency tracking company Elliptic. Prior to Robinson’s blog post, two people who were briefed on the case had confirmed the payment amount to AP.
The pipeline system supplies about 45% of the gasoline used on the east coast.