Industry analysts are forecasting a rise in gas prices following a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline last week that forced its major pipeline to shut down.
Gas prices have already risen an average of six cents over the past two weeks to $3.02 per gallon, the Associated Press reported.
The pipeline’s location means that the Southeast from Maryland to Florida and as far west as Tennessee will likely be the most impacted by the attack. “The shorter the pipeline shutdown, the better news for motorists,” AAA said of the shutdown.
Smaller pipelines at the company were restarted on Sunday, but the main pipeline has not yet resumed operations.
Pipeline company working to get back online
Colonial Pipeline said it was doing everything it could to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
“At this time, our primary focus is the safe and efficient restoration of our service and our efforts to return to normal operation. This process is already underway, and we are working diligently to address this matter and to minimize disruption to our customers and those who rely on Colonial Pipeline,” the company said.
The disruption could lead to higher prices for jet fuel as well, which could impact prices for airline tickets in the Southeast.
Reuters reported that demand also rose 4.3% in the area last week as people resume more of their normal activities after COVID, including local and longer-distance travel.
The company ships more than 2.5 million barrels of oil a day to the region. Most of the distribution locations have a 10-day reserve supply, but price structures have not been conducive to storing more than that.
Ransomware attacks on infrastucture a growing problem
The ransomware attack was reportedly conducted by a criminal ransomware gang called “Dark Side.”
Ransomware attacks involve hackers getting control of a company’s computer systems and threatening to disrupt or destroy them unless the company pays a ransom to the hackers.
Most companies refuse to pay the ransom, but must reconstruct or rebuild their systems after the hackers disable or destroy them. The Biden administration has made efforts to protect some infrastructure from cyberattacks, but so far oil pipelines have not been included in those protections.