Following the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline Company last week, local residents, worried about gasoline shortages, are scrambling to fill up vehicles and containers with gasoline.
As a result, many stations are either running low or running out of gasoline.
On Tuesday, May 11, the Rainelle Go Mart had to shut their pumps down because they ran out of fuel, but a gasoline truck arrived later that evening. As of Wednesday morning, fuel pumps are open, according to a Go Mart official.
Rupert mayor and manager of the Rupert Sunoco Station, Steve Baldwin, stated that he believes the issue with stations running out of gas is a logistical problem rather than a gas shortage.
“There are only so many trucks that can deliver and people have bought more than they can deliver,” Baldwin said. “It’s putting a strain on them.”
“If people would just buy what they normally buy and stop hoarding, the problem will fix itself eventually,” Baldwin added.
Gasoline hoarding could cause a situation that drives up prices, he cautioned.
Rainelle acting Mayor Bill Bell said that events like this show how vulnerable we are, and added that people should always be prepared.
“I was overwhelmed watching the panic buying at Go Mart,” Bell said. “You couldn’t get in the Go Mart parking lot after the gasoline delivery.”
“Always be prepared,” Bell continued. “The derecho taught me that. We should have food, water and gasoline so we don’t have to panic buy.”
Lawrence Messina, communications director for the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security, stated that his department is working with state officials in both the public and private sectors to monitor the situation.
“The best advice is simple: stay calm,” Messina said. “The pipeline is not a significant fuel source for West Virginia. Avoiding panic buying is the best precaution West Virginians can take at this time.”
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice had information and advice that followed what local mayors are saying about fuel shortages.
Justice stated during a press conference on May 12, that West Virginians are creating their own problems by hoarding gasoline. He said that, at his request, West Virginia was added to the amended regional emergency declaration by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, which will allow easier transportation of fuel to affected areas.
“The best advice that I can give you is to just stay calm,” Justice said. “The bulk of our gasoline that comes into the state of West Virginia does not come on the Colonial Pipeline. It comes on the Plantation Pipeline.”
“There is no real shortage of fuel right now in West Virginia,” Justice continued. “It’s simply a transportation logistics problem and that, in essence, creates a shortage.”
He said that all West Virginians need to make sure that they have adequate gasoline to meet their needs, but to stop hoarding.
“We are going to continue to stay on top of it,” Justice concluded.
According to information provided by Colonial Pipeline, they are the “largest refined products pipeline in the United States, transporting more than 100 million gallons of fuel daily to meet the energy needs of consumers from Houston, Texas, to the New York Harbor.”
In a statement released by the FBI on May 10, they confirmed that the Darkside ransomware is responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks. They are continuing investigations into the incident.