Barely a week after cyberattack, Colonial Pipeline’s communications system goes offline

A week after reopening from a cyberattack, the company that runs the biggest gasoline pipeline on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard says the communications system its customers use to monitor shipments has gone offline.

Shippers who use the 8,800-kilometre Colonial Pipeline to ship gasoline and other fuel products from refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast to markets as far north as New York City reported Tuesday that they have been unable to access the communications system they use to keep track of fuel shipments.

The system, known as Transport4, is used by other pipelines as well, to either purchase space, make changes to an order or monitor an order along the way. But so far there are no reports of it not working for other companies that use the technology.

The pipeline carries 2.5 million barrels a day of gasoline, supplying about half of the gasoline used in roughly one-dozen states between Texas and New Jersey. It was hit by hackers earlier this month, closing the pipeline off for almost a week until it was restarted last Friday.

The pipeline supplies 45 per cent of the gasoline in the states it services. (Wendy Martinez/CBC)

The company confirmed to CBC News in a statement Tuesday that it is indeed experiencing “intermittent disruptions,” but insists that the flow of gasoline and other fuel products is moving as planned.

“These issues were not related to the ransomware or any type of reinfection,” the company said. “We are working diligently to bring our nomination system back online and will continue to keep our shippers updated. The Colonial Pipeline system continues to deliver refined products as nominated by our shippers.”

The company gave no indication as to when the communications outage would be fixed.

Gas shortages

Last week’s outage let to long lines for gasoline and stations running dry throughout the states that rely on the pipeline for fuel. At one point, as many as 16,000 gas stations were out of fuel. As of Monday evening, that figure had fallen to just over 10,000 across the U.S., according to gas price tracking website GasBuddy.com

While there was some possibility that Canadian drivers could have been impacted if shipments were rerouted, that didn’t happen as the company reportedly paid a ransom to the hackers who infiltrated the network, and the flow of product resumed in time to limit the impact.

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