Energy analysts warned that a prolonged suspension of an oil pipeline could raise prices at the pump along the East Coast and leave some smaller airports scrambling for jet fuel, Clifford Krauss reports for The New York Times.
The operator of the pipeline, the largest between Texas and New York, declined on Sunday to say when it would reopen. Colonial Pipeline said that it was developing “a system restart plan” and would restore service to some small lines between terminals and delivery points but “will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so.”
The company, which shut down the pipeline on Friday, has acknowledged that it was the victim of a ransomware attack by a criminal group, meaning that the hacker might hold the company’s data hostage until it pays a ransom. Colonial Pipeline, which is privately held, would not say whether it had paid a ransom. By failing to state a timeline for reopening, the company renewed questions about whether the operations of the pipeline could still be in jeopardy.
The F.B.I. said on Monday that the attack was caused by DarkSide ransomware, a strain of computer virus deployed by an eponymous group, confirming earlier reports.
The shutdown of the 5,500-mile pipeline was a troubling sign that the nation’s energy infrastructure is vulnerable to cyberattacks from criminal groups or nations.
Energy experts predicted that traders would view the company’s announcement on Sunday as a sign that the pipeline would remain shut at least for a few days.
Experts said several airports that depend on the pipeline for jet fuel, including Nashville, Tenn.; Baltimore-Washington; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., could have a hard time later in the week. Airports generally store enough jet fuel for three to five days of operations.
White House officials held emergency meetings on the pipeline attack over the weekend. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said in a tweet that they were looking for ways to “mitigate potential disruptions to supply.”
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