Colonial Pipeline restarted operations at 5 p.m. Wednesday as panic-induced gas shortages swept across the East Coast and Gulf coast states.
As of 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, 68 percent of North Carolina gas stations had no fuel, the most of any state impacted by the shutdown, according to GasBuddy.com.
In a news release, Colonial Pipeline said it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal following a weekend ransomeware attack that took the computer systems offline. The pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York, supplies about 45 percent of the East Coast’s motor fuel.
“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period,” the statement said. “Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.”
As part of this startup process, Colonial will conduct “a comprehensive series of pipeline safety assessments in compliance with all federal pipeline safety requirements,” the company said.
The pipeline is still manually supplying fuel, but demand left gas stations in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi with depleted supply. Long lines and closed pumps followed.
Federal and state officials have eased transportation and environmental regulations to help keep gas flowing, and anti-price gouging laws are in effect.
The office of N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein said they had received nearly 400 complaints of price gouging through Wednesday afternoon.
CBS 17 reported some complaints said stores were selling premium unleaded for as much as $11.66 per gallon. Complaints from Onslow County said regular went from below $3 to $9.99.
Potential price gouging can be reported by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint at https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/price-gouging/.
During a Wednesday afternoon briefing before Colonial Pipeline’s announcement, President Joe Biden said he thinks the panic-induced shortage will end soon.
“I think you’re going to hear some good news in the next 24 hours and I think we’ll be getting that under control,” he said. “I’ve lifted some restrictions on transporting fuel and the U.S. military providing fuel where needed.”
He said the crisis shows greater investments near to be made in “education as it relates to be able to train and graduate more people proficient in cyber security.”