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Colonial Pipeline cyberattack creates uncertainty around the pump in southeastern North Carolina

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 10:36 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - There are a lot of unknowns as the Colonial Pipeline, America’s largest pipeline fuel system, remains shutdown after a cybersecurity attack on Friday.

Musa Agil, who owns Masonboro Country Store and owns the gas at Wrightsville Country Store, said news of the attack left him scrambling.

“I tried to put an order in today and they said sorry we cannot have it,” Agil said. “I called another vendor and he said we do not have gas — possibly Thursday we’d have an update whether we’re going to get it this week or not.”

Colonial Pipeline makes up roughly half of the fuel supply on the east coast, running from Houston, TX, to Linden, NJ.

According to an update sent by Cary Oil, a convenience store fuel supplier based out of Cary, N.C., even after the pipeline resumes its operations, “It will take weeks to bring markets back to full operations.”

Governor Cooper issued a state of emergency today in response to the temporary shutdown of the pipeline (see below). It temporarily suspends fuel regulations to ensure adequate fuel supplies throughout the state.

Agil said his vendors told him that gas prices are going to increase.

“They’re going to go up, they’re going to go up,” Agil said. “Very, very, very high we do not know how much. But at the beginning until, you know, the supply goes back to normal — which is going to take very, very long time — its going to be a big spike.”

While gas stations can prepare for something like an incoming hurricane, there was no way they could have predicted a cyberattack on the largest pipeline fuel system. Masonboro Country Store could run out of its ethanol-free gas in one or two days, according to Agil.

“Right now, we’re going half a tank possibly less than half a tank,” he said.

Like most days, you could find a lot of drivers filling their gas tanks up on Monday. Some were filling up in anticipation of what’s to come.

“My mom and dad heard about the cyberattack or something of that nature and told me that the prices for gas were about to go up so they told me to come fill my tank up,” said Hays Marr, a Wilmington resident.

Others were filling up because they simply needed the gas.

“I was completely on empty. I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it up the road,” said one person. “You got to pay it, you know, I’m going to drive to work and I’m going to drive to do things that I enjoy and it is what it is.”

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