According to CNN, gasoline demand has surged following a ransomware attack that crippled the Colonial Pipeline — a system that stretches more than 5,500 miles and transports about 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast. The system transports 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil. Authorities believe criminal group DarkSide is responsible for the attack.
Gasoline demand in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia spiked by a collective 40.1% on Monday.
The pipeline shutdown has begun affecting glass retailers in the Southeast. Marvin Hulsey, owner of Stafford Glass in Stafford, Va., oversees three, full-time teams that travel an average of 450 miles per day for mobile work at both commercial and residential locations.
“Considering this has just begun to generate hoarding and panic—I can see how this will drastically affect our business from all aspects,” Hulsey said. “Our supply chain, pricing, our employees’ ability to report for work, [and] our estimates to our customers [are affected]. This morning, just trying to find a fuel station in Stafford that had open pumps took almost an hour.”
He says gas stations across a span of about 10-15 miles were shut down with no fuel. “[I] finally found fuel but it was running low. Today was day-one of hoarding and panic buying so I can only imagine what we will look like in a week.”
The ransomware attack has caused Hulsey to question the strength of the U.S. energy infrastructure, which is vital to his business.
“[The crisis] will delay jobs and will impact employees’ pay,” Hulsey said. “The problems are two-fold. It affects us in conducting our business and it affects our employees’ ability to report for work, reducing their earnings. We will focus on the local jobs we have and put customers on hold. Once we are out of fuel, it shuts down all operations. Weren’t we just fully energy independent for the first time in 50 years and we enjoyed fuel prices below two dollars? What happened to that in just a few short months? How can a single pipeline hack shut down a nation? People these days no longer pause before they panic. Now it is just panic, panic, [and] panic.”