More than 1,000 gas stations ran dry, with massive lines, after a cyberattack knocked the crucial fuel pipeline to the East Coast

gas station lines
Big lines at a Costco gas station on May 11, 2021, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • Gas stations across the US are running out in the wake of a crippling cyberattack.
  • The Colonial Pipeline that supplies the East Coast has been down since it was hacked last week.
  • Its operators expect to restore service soon. In the meantime, many are panic-buying.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than 1,000 gas stations in eastern US states ran out of gasoline after a cyberattack knocked out a crucial US pipeline which supplies much of the region’s gasoline.

Price rises and panic-buying followed the news, which led to widespread shortages as operators struggled to move fuel supplies without the out-of-action Colonial Pipeline.

According to the app GasBuddy, as of late Wednesday the worst-hit states were North Carolina, where 16% of stations were out of gas, Georgia, where 10.4% were empty, and Virginia, where 10.2% had run out.

The figures were an increase on those released only 5 hours previously, with the percentage of gas stations that were empty in North Carolina increasing by 2% in North Carolina and about 1% in Georgia and Virginia respectively.

Citing data from S&P’s Oil Price Information Service, The Associated Press reported that at least 1,000 gas stations had run out of gasoline by Tuesday.

People told CBS News that at some gas stations in South Carolina lines were more than an hour long.

Some motorists recorded long lines snaking out of gas stations.

The crunch in fuel supply was caused by a ransomware attack on Friday that forced the closure of part of the Colonial Pipeline. The 5,500-mile network supplies about 45% of the East Coast’s fuel.

The Biden administration has said the pipeline will be working again in the next few days, and has urged Americans not to stockpile fuel.

“We are asking people not to hoard,” US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters at the White House. “Things will be back to normal soon.”

Colonial in a statement said it hopes to re-open the pipeline by Friday. It has taken a delivery of an extra 2 million barrels in fuel to deploy when the pipeline is opened, reported Reuters.

The shortage has seen prices for unleaded gas rise to an average of $2.99 a gallon, the highest since 2014, The American Automobile Association said.

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