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Pipeline cyberattack affects East Tennessee gas supply

Published: May. 11, 2021 at 12:59 PM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 4:13 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Over the weekend Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. delivering fuel products from Houston to New York Harbor, confirmed the company was a victim of a cybersecurity attack and proactively halted pipeline operations.

Sunday, the company announced that some smaller lines are now operational, but the mainlines including gasoline, remain offline. Colonial is developing a system restart plan, but there is no word on when the pipeline will be operational.

The 5,500 mile Colonial Pipeline transmits about 100 million gallons of fuel daily that equates to approximately 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast.

AAA said that the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline will have varying impacts on both gasoline supply and pump prices across the country the longer it is offline. AAA expects areas from Mississippi and Tennessee to Georgia and Delaware to likely experience limited fuel availability and price increases of three to seven cents, as early as this week. These situations are expected to be temporary and are not shortages AAA said.

AAA urges against panic-buying of gasoline and said that panic-buying only worsens the situation for everyone. There are other tips to keep in mind to conserve fuel like combining errands, using your more fuel-efficient vehicle, removing unnecessary and bulky items from your car. AAA advises filling up when you have a quarter of a tank of fuel remaining.

AAA said that once the pipeline is running, the residual delivery impact may linger because it can take 15-18 days for the pipeline to pump fuel from Texas to New Jersey. Add to that the existing delivery delays due to the shortage of fuel tank drivers, and some stations could see a few extra days of temporary bagged pumps.

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