Colonial Pipeline gas is again flowing into Hampton Roads after cyber attack

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Gasoline is again flowing into Hampton Roads fuel terminals from the Colonial Pipeline following a shut down for most of the week due to a cyber attack.

The Hampton Roads spur of the pipeline went back online Wednesday night and service was restored statewide by noon Thursday, according to Erin Sutton, Virginia’s chief deputy state coordinator for Virginia Emergency Management.

However, the line is not yet up to full pressure, meaning supply at the pumps could still remain volatile in the coming days.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

The pipeline is operating at 50% capacity for at least 48 hours to make sure things are running safely, according to what state regulators said in a briefing reported on by WAVY sister station WRIC.

Scott Marshall, utility and railroad safety pipeline program manager for the Virginia State Corporation Commission, said if all goes well, the pipeline will begin to flow fuel at normal rates as early as 6 p.m. on May 14.

The pipeline, which runs mostly underground through several Hampton Roads counties and cities on its way to South Norfolk in Chesapeake, is part of a 5,500-mile system.

Sutton said fuel moves under 10 miles per hour and it takes 14 days for gas to travel from where the pipeline begins in Houston and where it ends in Linden, New Jersey.

Colonial announced Friday its systems had been hacked and as a precaution, the company shut down all four of its major pipelines that deliver petroleum to 45% of the East Coast.

While industry experts and government officials were forthcoming in saying there was no gas shortage — only a distribution problem, lines at gas stations swelled across Virginia and North Carolina. At several points, the majority of stations in both states were out of fuel according to GasBuddy.

Media outlets had reported Wednesday that Colonial Pipeline Co. would not pay ransom after a cyberattack by hackers locked up computer systems, but sources told Bloomberg the ransom was paid within hours of the attack.

Marshall said while the Colonial Pipeline was shut down, Virginia continued to get fuel supply from three other pipelines that run through the state, including the Plantation and Kinder Morgan interstate pipelines, and the Nustar intrastate pipeline which provides jet fuel to Naval Station Oceana.

He also explained that Colonial restarted parts of its pipeline on May 11 to provide some additional fuel from storage tanks until that supply was exhausted.

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