As gasoline stations run dry, anxiety is growing across the East Coast where a cyberattack forced a major fuel pipeline to shut down.
The 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline has been shut down indefinitely since Friday after a cyberattack led its operators to cease operations of the major artery supplying gasoline to states all through the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions. The company hopes to reopen most of the line by the end of the week.
In the meantime, “We’re seeing a gas run,” said Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Now we’re going to see more dramatic [effects] as people run to the stations and run them dry."
That's already happening. As of Tuesday morning, 240 Georgia stations were out of gas, according to GasBuddy. That's about 4 percent of the state's stations.
Georgia was not alone. About 7.5 percent of Virginia's stations were dry, while about 5 percent of North Carolina's stations had nothing for gas-thirsty customers, and almost 2 percent of South Carolina stations were out.
Gas Buddy data showed demand for gasoline up 40 percent in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
Gas lines in N Myrtle Beach, most stations are out of gas. Is this our new America? pic.twitter.com/UOs0luLn22
— Kim S (@KSS141) May 11, 2021
⛽️ Today I passed MULTIPLE gas stations with no gas and waited in a long line at only station that did. First time I ever remember this happening (not related to weather) since I started driving in 1985. pic.twitter.com/WIpHnACBYj
— Marc Lotter (@marc_lotter) May 11, 2021
In Raleigh, North Carolina, a 30-car-long line formed by BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Frank Barnhill, 58, who lives near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, said he filled up early Monday and will now conserve what he has.
“There is high anxiety,” he said. “Today I have zero expectation that I will find gas so I’m not going searching for it. ... It’s going to put a crimp in my schedule the next few days.”
John Bootsma was in Raleigh when his daughter texted him to fill up, as there was no gas to be had around their Charlotte home.
He managed to get a tankful, which was the last the station had to give.
“It all shut down as soon as I put the nozzle back on the pump,” he said. “The computer sign came up and said, ‘This pump has stopped pumping.’ The other pumps said the same thing.”
States are responding to the crisis.
Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Monday and suspended fuel regulations. Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday halted the state's gas tax temporarily and eased weight limits to allow trucks hauling fuel to carry heavier loads.