Here's how the pipeline cyberattack could impact Alabama's gas supply

The Colonial Pipeline provides millions of barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel everyday in states in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

Posted: May 10, 2021 7:09 PM

Work to re-open a major U.S. pipeline by the end of the week is underway. Experts say in the meantime, you should try to limit your travel if you can.

The Colonial Pipeline provides millions of barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel everyday in states in the southern and eastern parts of the country. It runs through Alabama from Houston to the East Coast. The company says they were forced to shut down all four of their pipelines to try to limit the scope of a cyberattack.

The shutdown is causing a major supply concern.

"I can't imagine anything that we've seen in my scope of doing this. We are likely to see some stations run out of gasoline," Patrick De Haan, head of Petroleum Analysis at Gasbuddy, said.

As Head of Petroleum Analysis, De Haan has been monitoring the situation with the Colonial Pipeline closely. He said the shutdown is much more alarming than a previous one in 2016.

"Back in 2016, one of them sprung a leak. That left Colonial with some options to ship via other pipelines, but this time, unfortunately, it's all four pipelines so this is more of a potentially severe event," De Haan said.

While the shutdown may make many concerned about an increase in gas prices, De Haan says that is not something people should be worried about right now.

"We're not talking about any impairment to refineries that produce gasoline. This is not primarily a pricing event but primarily a supply crisis," De Haan said.

And De Haan says a supply crisis could have much more long lasting impacts if people don't find ways to conserve gas during the shutdown.

"This is already a bad situation, but motorists don't realize that they have the power to limit the scope, limit the pricing of this, to limit increases and make the resolution quicker," he said.

"If everyone were to rush out and fill their tanks, we'd be talking about outages that may be persistent for several weeks. If everyone stopped driving as soon as the pipeline came back online, we'd be right back in business," De Haan said

At an update Monday, Colonial says they hope to get the pipeline up and running by the end of this week. De Haan says realistically, we could be dealing with challenges from this shutdown for the next five to seven days.

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