(Reuters) – President Joe Biden assured motorists on Thursday that fuel supplies in the United States should begin to return to normal this weekend, even as more gas stations almost ran out of gas across the Southeast. a week after a cyber attack on the country’s main oil pipeline.
Colonial Pipeline said late Thursday that it had restarted its entire pipeline and delivery system in all the markets it serves. The company said it will take several days for the supply chain to return to normal along its 8,850-kilometer route.
Some markets “may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions,” Colonial Pipeline said in a statement, echoing Biden, who previously said there could be “setbacks.”
The pipeline, which carries 100 million gallons a day of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, resumed computer-controlled pumping Wednesday night after tightening safety measures.
Gasoline shortages worsened from Virginia to Florida as warehouses and distribution centers waited for supplies. The closure also forced two refineries to cut production and spurred airlines to divert flights to refuel at airports outside the affected area.
The return to pipeline operations should bring supplies to some worst hit areas as early as Thursday, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said.
On Thursday, about 70% of gas stations in North Carolina ran out of fuel, while about 50% of stations in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia had supply problems, tracking firm GasBuddy said.
The national average price of gasoline rose above $ 3.00 a gallon, the highest level since October 2014, the American Automobile Association said. Prices in some areas rose as much as 11 cents in one day.
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FIVE MILLION DOLLARS
Earlier, Bloomberg News reported that Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $ 5 million to hackers in Eastern Europe following the devastating cyberattack.
The company paid the ransom in non-traceable cryptocurrencies hours after the attack, according to the report. Colonial Pipeline declined to comment.
There is a heated debate as to whether, in the event of an attack, companies should pay to regain control of their systems. Critics say paying ransoms encourages attacks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that companies victimized by cyberattacks should not pay ransoms.
The hackers provided Colonial Pipeline with a decryption tool to restore its affected computer networks after receiving payment, but the company used its own backups to help recover its systems, as the tool was slow, Bloomberg News reported.
(Report by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano and Rodrigo Charme)