Ransomeware Attack Shuts Key East Coast Gas Pipeline

Colonial Pipeline has had a cyberattack involving ransomeware from an Eastern European-based criminal gang called DarkSide. Colonial Pipeline has temporarily shutdown 2.5 million barrels per day of pipelines. This is about 12-15% of US oil capacity.

On May 7, the Colonial Pipeline Company learned it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack. We have since determined that this incident involves ransomware. In response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems. Upon learning of the issue, a leading, third-party cybersecurity firm was engaged, and they have launched an investigation into the nature and scope of this incident, which is ongoing. We have contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies.

Colonial Pipeline is taking steps to understand and resolve this issue. At this time, our primary focus is the safe and efficient restoration of our service and our efforts to return to normal operation. This process is already underway, and we are working diligently to address this matter and to minimize disruption to our customers and those who rely on Colonial Pipeline.

Colonial is a key artery for the eastern half of the U.S. It’s the main source of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for the East Coast with capacity of about 2.5 million barrels a day on its system from Texas as far as North Carolina, and another 900,000 barrels a day to New York. Colonial Pipeline 2.5 million barrel per day (b/d) system of approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline consistently runs at or near full capacity. Colonial connects 29 refineries and 267 distribution terminals, carrying refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and jet fuel from as far west as Houston, Texas, to as far north as New York Harbor.

Colonial Pipeline is working to restore operations and has hired a third-party cybersecurity firm to investigate. The company said in a statement Saturday that it “proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems.”

Colonial Pipeline also recently had a leak of 1.2 million gallons of gasoline. The leak has been ongoing for quite a while and it has taken months to get a proper estimate of the scope of the problem.

The fuel leak was first reported in August 2020, after city officials say two teenagers were riding ATVs and noticed the leak.

One month later, Colonial Pipeline estimated 273,000 gallons of gasoline had spilled. In November, that number jumped to 354,060 gallons and by January 2021, 1,119,982 gallons.

North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) said data shows the amount of gasoline released in Mecklenburg County’s Oehler Nature Preserve exceeds Colonial’s 1.2 million-gallon estimate.

SOURCES- Colonial Pipeline, Bloomberg, Twitter, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com