On Friday, a key pipeline carrying gasoline and diesel to the United States’ East Cost was shut down following a cyberattack. The event highlighted the vulnerability of the country’s energy infrastructure.
Late Friday, the Colonial Pipeline had to cease operations as it was the target of a ransomware attack.
The pipeline carries most of the gasoline and diesel supply to the East Coast of the United States. Hours after the attack was revealed to the public, individuals rushed to nearby gas stations to stock up in the event of a shortage.
The average price of a regular gasoline gallon surpassed $3 for the first time since 2014, reaching $3.028 on May 12th.
Tankers were ordered to start shipping gasoline to the United States from Europe by commodity traders in fear of a prolonged shutdown.
Over 1,000 gasoline stations sounded the alarm on Wednesday as the supply depleted rapidly, and many stations ran out of gasoline.
The 5,500-mile pipeline resumed operations on Thursday, but while some densely populated areas in the Southeast U.S. will see relief rapidly, it might take a few days for all gas stations to be fully stocked.
As cyberattacks are becoming increasingly more common, and their impact represents an increasingly important threat on national security, many observers pointed out the country’s energy vulnerability.
In February 2021, Texas experienced unprecedented blackouts during a rare weather event that disabled the power grid. Millions of customers were left without electricity for days.
The blackouts raised questions about the Texas power grid and its increasing reliance on renewable energy. While renewable energy sources are promising, their application is still riddled with flaws and unreliability.
Both the pipeline hack and the Texas blackouts highlighted the country’s increasing energy vulnerability. While governments are putting more efforts into electrifying transportation and the energy grid, the threat of cyber attacks on the country’s infrastructure is looming heavily.
In Canada, left-wing political movements have opposed the construction of pipelines across the country. The few remaining pipelines that are in operation are also vulnerable, and in the event of a cyberattack or a rare event, Canada could prove to be highly vulnerable.