Around the major cities of North Carolina, Atlanta, Raleigh and Charlotte, more than 30% of stations were out of gas as of Tuesday night. (Photo: 123RF)
Fearing a large gasoline shortage after a computer attack on a major pipeline system in the United States, many motorists rushed to the pumps in parts of the east coast on Tuesday, urging authorities to take action emergency to facilitate supply and avoid panic.
Around the major cities of North Carolina, Atlanta, Raleigh and Charlotte, more than 30% of the stations were out of gasoline Tuesday evening according to the site specializing in tracking gasoline prices GasBuddy.
Statewide, more than 10% of stations were dry, according to the same source.
The situation was also tense in Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina.
Some drivers feared they would run out of fuel after Friday’s cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline, which carries nearly 45% of the fuels consumed on the country’s east coast.
The company has since been active in restoring service and hopes to restore most of its activities “by the end of the week”.
Confirming this objective, Energy Minister Jennifer Granholm assured Tuesday that there was “no reason to stock up on fuel”. It is a “supply problem, not a shortage of gasoline”, she insisted from the White House.
But “people watch the news and get scared,” said the manager of an Exxon station in Raleigh who declined to give his name. “They are filling cans with gasoline.”
The prices go up
The cost of refueling was already rising sharply since the US economy began to rebound. The country’s average price of a gallon of gasoline (3.79 liters) rose to $ 2.99 on Tuesday, its highest level since 2014, according to GasBuddy.
The Minister of Energy assured that the authorities would have “no tolerance” for traders who would like to take advantage of the situation by raising prices.
For lack of sufficient kerosene at Charlotte airport, the American Airlines company for its part had to modify two long-haul flights, to Honolulu and London, by adding a stop before arrival.
Oil market specialists, however, did not panic: the price of the benchmark gasoline contract listed in New York temporarily rose Sunday evening, but it has since fallen.
“Reports that brokerage firms are reserving gasoline shipments from Europe are keeping calm” on the black gold market, argues Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group.
According to the US Federal Police, the hacking was carried out by the Darkside criminal group who used ransomware, or “ransomware,” a program that exploits security holes to encrypt computer systems and demand a ransom to unlock them.
It hit the largest operator of refined products pipelines in the country, which transport gasoline and diesel over 8,800 kilometers from refineries on the Gulf Coast of Mexico to the northeast. from the United States, in the New York area.
To mitigate the disturbances, the American authorities authorized as early as Sunday evening truck drivers carrying refined products to work longer than usual.
On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted a temporary waiver to temporarily relax environmental regulations in urban areas to facilitate procurement.
This exemption, which initially concerned the federal capital Washington, as well as the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, until May 18, was extended in the evening to Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, certain counties in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, the North and South Carolinas and Tennessee, until May 31.
The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia have declared a state of emergency in order to facilitate the supply, for example by lifting the weight limits for trucks carrying fuel. This measure was extended Tuesday evening by the Department of Transport to federal highways.
The authorities are also considering possibly lifting certain obligations to facilitate the delivery of oil by ship from the Gulf of Mexico to the east coast.
Colonial Pipeline continues for its part to gradually reopen side lines operated manually, according to a press release released Tuesday evening.
The company claims to have passed the equivalent of 967,000 barrels (about 41 million gallons) since the interruption of its services and has set aside 2 million barrels ready to be sent to the pipelines as soon as the computer system has completely finished. restarted.