A MAJOR US pipeline is temporarily closed following a cyber attack on Friday, May 9.
In the days that followed, it caused gas prices to rise as fuel supplies dwindle across the East Coast. Here’s what we know so far:
What is the Colonial Gas Pipeline?
The 5,500 mile Colonial Gas Pipeline is one of the country’s major energy distributors and carries refined gasoline and jet fuel up from Texas to New York.
It accounts for the shipping of some 45 per cent of all fuel supplies on the East Coast of the country.
Furthermore, it transports some 2.5million barrels each day - taking refined gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast to major airports and New York Harbor.
Colonial Pipeline describes itself as the largest refined products pipeline in the United States.
What has happened to the Colonial Gas Pipeline?
The pipeline was forced to temporarily shut down following an extremely sophisticated cyberattack.
The hack, which occurred on Friday May 7, 2021, also impacted some of the firm's information technology systems.
In a statement, the company said it "proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems."
It has led to a rise in gas prices as supplies dwindle along its main supply lines along the East Coast.
Who is responsible?
A Russian crime group named "DarkSide" have been confirmed as the culprits behind the the ransomware attack that led to this week's chaos.
DarkSide targets large corporations for ransom by capturing the victim's confidential data and threatening to leak it if the ransom isn't paid.
"Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society," DarkSide wrote on its website.
At the time of writing, it is not known what the Colonial Pipeline ransom is, if it is being negotiated, or if it has been paid.
The hack is believed to be the largest successful digital attack on US energy infrastructure in history.
In response, President Biden issued a warning to Russia, saying that his administration is determined to protect the country's infrastructure.
"I am going to be meeting with Putin and so far there’s no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved," Biden told reporters on May 10.
"Although there’s evidence that the actor's ransomware is in Russia, they have some responsibility to deal with them."
"This is something that our administration has been tracking extremely carefully, and it’s something it takes very seriously.
“We have efforts underway with the FBI and DoJ to disrupt and prosecute ransomware criminals."
How much will gas prices rise?
According to the AAA, the national gas price average jumped six cents to $2.96 on May 10, 2021, following the incident a few days earlier.
This would see petrol at its most expensive level since November 2014, when the average prices reached $2.99 and higher.
Speaking on Tuesday May 11, 2021, AAA spokesman, Jeanette McGee, said: "Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the east coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week."
"These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week."
In response the US government relaxed rules on fuel being transported by road on Sunday, May 9 in a bid to minimize disruption to supply.
This allowed drivers in 18 states to work extra or more flexible hours when transporting the products.
However, gas stations across the US were reported to have started to run out of fuel on Tuesday May, 11.
North Carolina even declared a state of emergency to mitigate any disruption.
What happens next?
Although measures are in place to try and help supplies, a number of regions have now declared a state of emergencies in a bid to minimise disruption.
Motor vehicle fuel regulations have been temporarily suspended to ensure sufficient fuel supplies throughout the state, ABC13 reports.
The shutdown has affected the aviation sector as American Airlines has confirmed that they will add additional stops for two long-haul flights out of Charlotte, CNBC reports.
A direct flight to Honolulu will now stop at Dallas Fort-Worth and a Charlotte-London flight will stop in Boston for refueling.
Southwest Airlines is flying planes with additional fuel into Nashville airport while United Airlines say operations have not yet been impacted.
Colonial Pipeline officials say the company hopes to "substantially" restore operational service by the end of the week.
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On the political front, the White House has initiated efforts to shore up the security of the nation's infrastructure and utility suppliers.
They warned of more cyber attacks as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said such attacks are "here to stay" and the White House must "work in partnership with business to secure networks to defend ourselves."