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Cyberattack shuts down pipeline that supplies 45 percent of East Coast fuel

A major oil pipeline that carries more than 100 million gallons of fuel from Houston to Linden, N.J., each day is shut down after the company that owns it was hit with a cyberattack.

Colonial Pipeline, which says it delivers about 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply, shut down its entire pipeline network and some of its IT systems Friday.

“Upon learning of the issue, a leading, third-party cybersecurity firm was engaged, and they have already launched an investigation into the nature and scope of this incident, which is ongoing,” the company said in a statement.

“We have contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies.”

The FBI and the White House’s National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Alpharetta, Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline said its priority is restoring service, and that “process is already underway.” No timeline was offered for when the pipeline might be back in service.

The Georgia company claims to supply 45% of the fuel on the East Coast of the United States.
The Georgia company claims to supply 45 percent of the fuel on the East Coast of the United States.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

It offered no specifics on exactly what happened, who launched the attack, what the motives were or if the attack caused any further problems.

Several news outlets, including Reuters and The Washington Post, were reporting that the incident was a ransomware attack, citing US government sources. It was unclear if it was carried out by criminals or a foreign government, The Washington Post reported.

The cyberattack also caused Colonial Pipeline to shut down some of its IT systems.
The cyberattack also caused Colonial Pipeline to shut down some of its IT systems.
AP

The company’s 5,500-mile pipeline system carries gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil and fuel for the US military across the country. A temporary shutdown might not have significant impact, but a lengthy disruption could affect the price of gas at the pump, along with raising costs for airlines, shipping companies and others.

Colonial shut down significant portions of its pipelines during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, CNBC reported. During that time, gasoline and diesel prices rose to multi-year highs.

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