BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Colonial Pipeline is now back up and running as of 5 p.m. Wednesday after the company was forced to shut down operations due to a ransomware attack onto its computer system by a group of hackers called “Dark Side.”
But as gas outages widen across the East Coast, it could take days to return to normal.READ MORE: Two Days After Mandate Went Into Effect, The Vaccination Status Of Thousands Of City Employees Remains Unknown
The tanks dried up at the Exxon on York Road and Bosley Avenue early Wednesday afternoon. The owner here said it could take days for the tankers to return as officials urge people not to panic or hoard gas.
At the BP on the corner of Orleans and Low streets, prices are getting high.
“What am I gonna do? I have to get gas. For people who are struggling, it makes matters worse. It definitely adds up,” said a man named Chris.
“I started ignoring it. I don’t even look at the prices anymore. I say, ‘Put $20 on whatever it is,’ and however long that lasts, that’s how long we driving,” said another man named Jerome.
“I don’t think nobody wants to be caught in a line,” Jerome said.
Officials said shortages are driven solely by panic buying, not supply issues. Hackers breached Colonial Pipeline’s computer system so the company was forced to shut it down, cutting off a major source of gasoline, jet fuel and diesel to several states. The pipeline sends oil from Houston, Texas, to Linden, N.J. near New York.
In a statement, Colonial Pipeline announced it restarted operations at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
“Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. 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 we initiate our return to service, our primary focus remains safety. As part of this startup process, Colonial will conduct a comprehensive series of pipeline safety assessments in compliance with all Federal pipeline safety requirements.
This is the first step in the restart process and would not have been possible without the around-the-clock support of Colonial Pipeline’s dedicated employees who have worked tirelessly to help us achieve this milestone. We would also like to thank the White House for their leadership and collaboration, as well as the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, FBI, PHMSA, FERC and other federal, state and local agencies for their ongoing support.
We will continue to provide updates as restart efforts progress.”
“In the south, they’re getting hit hard. They have no choice,” Chris said.
“Down south, I saw it. But, I wasn’t expecting this to be out today,” said motorist Renee Marshall as she was searching for gas in Towson.
But state officials urge Marylanders not to panic. Comptroller Peter Franchot, whose office regulates fuel, said two barges arrived at the Port of Baltimore Tuesday.
“So, we’re fortunate in Maryland to be much better off than these Southeastern states, where unfortunately, there’s just unnecessary panic going on and it results in making the problem worse,” he said.
Gov. Larry Hogan assured Marylanders Wednesday that the state is taking action to make sure the fuel supply remains in the state, but asked residents not to hoard gas.READ MORE: Jonathan & Diana Toebbe Plead Not Guilty To Espionage Charges
During Wednesday’s press conference, the governor said his office is continuing to monitor the situation closely and urged all Marylanders to remain calm.
“While I know that there’s a great deal of anxiety and concern, I want the people in Maryland to know that our supply chain is still working,” Hogan said. “There is certainly no need for panic buying. In fact, that would make the situation worse.”
Hogan also authorized the Maryland Department of Transportation to take emergency measures in response to the Colonial Pipeline hack on Wednesday.
“The emergency actions that we are taking will provide the state the flexibility it needs to address any disruption in fuel supply,” Hogan said. “It is important for Marylanders to know that the supply chain is still working – albeit more slowly than usual – and there is no need for panic buying. While the operators of the pipeline anticipate that the disruption is likely to be short-term, we continue to prepare for all contingencies as part of our statewide response.”
Maryland is in a better position than many states, thanks to the Port of Baltimore, Hogan said.
“We are at a much better situation for a number of reasons, but the Port of Baltimore, we bring a heck of a lot of our oil in through there and it goes on trucks and it’s not impacted by the pipeline,” he said.
Experts say to expect elevated prices to continue until Colonial Pipeline is fully back online, which they say will happen by the weekend.
Hogan also warned gas stations not to price gouge motorists. The Exxon at Arundel Mills in Anne Arundel County posted prices of nearly $4 but changed them when WJZ asked about it.
The price stunned motorists like Patience Rumph
“I will push this down there myself, because that’s crazy,” Rumph said when she learned another gas station had gas for $2 less.
The situation has left motorists like Marshall anxious.
“It blows my mind because I’m always on E, so I may have to go home and switch cars,” she said.
You can report any suspected price gouging to State Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office.State Agencies Say Labor Shortages Are Impacting Processing Times For Unemployment Claims