By Cathy Busewitz, Ben Finley and Tom Foreman, Jr. | Associated Press
CLEMMONS, N.C. — Drivers waited in long lines at gas stations in the Southeast on Wednesday after a hack of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline led to distribution problems and panic-buying, draining supplies at thousands of gas stations.
There is no gasoline shortage, according to government officials and energy analysts. But there is a problem getting the fuel from refineries on the Gulf Coast to the states that need it, and officials are scrambling to find alternate routes to deliver that fuel.
If the pipeline shutdown extends past the weekend, it could create broader fuel disruptions.
The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit on Friday with a cyberattack by hackers who lock up computer systems and demand a ransom to release them. The attack raised concerns, once again, about the vulnerability of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
The pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan region, but states in the Southeast are more reliant on the pipeline. Other parts of the country have more sources to tap. For example, a substantial amount of fuel is delivered to states in the Northeast by massive tankers.
“What you’re feeling is not a lack of supply or a supply issue. What we have is a transportation issue,” said Jeanette McGee, spokeswoman for the AAA auto club. “There is ample supply to fuel the United States for the summer, but what we’re having an issue with is getting it to those gas stations because the pipeline is down.”
Jamar Gatison, 36, was filling up his tank in Norfolk, Virginia, Wednesday before a doctor’s appointment.
“I’m about to run out of gas, so I have no choice,” the construction worker said while waiting in line at a 7-Eleven. “I’m also an Uber Eats driver. I also need gas for that,” Gatison said, adding that he probably won’t deliver food Wednesday night because he doesn’t want to wait in line again while the shortage continues.
In North Carolina, 28% of gas stations were out of fuel, according to Gasbuddy.com, a technology firm that tracks real-time fuel prices across the…