COLONIAL PIPELINE SAYS IT IS ‘FULLY OPERATIONAL’

The company suffered a short-term communications glitch; trucker shortage exacerbates supply issues.

Colonial Pipeline Co. said yesterday that it is “transporting refined products (gasoline, diesel and jet fuel) at normal levels and are fully operational,” and its communications system is back online after a brief outage yesterday unrelated to the ransomware attack which forced the May 7 shutdown of the 5,500-mile pipeline system, which runs from Texas to New Jersey.

“Our internal server that runs our nomination system experienced intermittent disruptions this morning due to some of the hardening efforts that are ongoing and part of our restoration process,” Colonial Pipeline said in a statement. “These issues were not related to the ransomware or any type of reinfection… The Colonial Pipeline system continues to deliver refined products as nominated by our shippers.”

By late afternoon yesterday, Colonial Pipeline tweeted that it had “restored service to our shippers processing system following the intermittent disruptions we were experiencing earlier today.”

The nomination system snag was the latest challenge for the Georgia-based company.

A cyberattack prompted the pipeline operator on May 7 to shut down the pipeline for nearly a week. Colonial Pipeline reportedly shelled out close to $5 million to Eastern European hackers to recover operations from the ransomware attack. Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted temporary waivers under the Jones Act to ease the fuel supply because of the pipeline shutdown.

The outage happened weeks ahead of Memorial Day, traditionally the kickoff of the summer travel season. By late last week, the pipeline was running at just under half capacity.

Adding to the tight supplies is a shortage of truck drivers—already a problem even before the pandemic struck.

“It’s really going to be probably seven to 10 days before the average consumer really notices a noticeable improvement, Andy Milton, senior vice president of supply at Mansfield Energy Corp., told Bloomberg. “The truck itself becomes the major, the major problem.”

“Everybody’s expecting to have their gas stations up and running overnight. That’s not going to happen and part of the reason is a stressed supply chain because of the driver shortage,” said Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations