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Maryland 'Drivers Should Proceed As Normal,' Officials Say Don't 'Panic Buy' Gas After Colonial Pipeline Hack

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Hackers targeted the Colonial Pipeline, which runs right through Maryland, supplying 45 percent of the fuel on the East Coast.

The attack forced the company to shut down over the weekend, essentially turning off the tap for thousands of gas stations.

More than 1,000 gas stations in the southeast have reported running out of fuel, mostly because of panic-buying.

But Maryland Comptroller, Peter Franchot, who's office regulates fuel in the state, said now is not the time to panic.

"I urge everyone to stay calm," said Peter Franchot, Comptroller of Maryland.

Franchot said two barges arrived at the Port of Baltimore Tuesday.

"We are lucky in that we have water access, in addition to the pipeline, and the pipeline is now having a problem, were able to get fuel delivered by water and we anticipate more of that," said Franchot.

The FBI confirming a ransomware group called "Darkside" is responsible for this attack.

In a tweet Tuesday, Governor Hogan says the state is prepared for all contingencies and drivers should proceed as normal.

"While the operators of the pipeline currently anticipate that the disruption is likely to be short-term, we are prepared for all contingencies," Hogan tweeted. "We will keep Marylanders informed of any significant impacts on our fuel supply. For now, drivers should proceed as normal."

"There will be plenty of fuel in the interim as long as people don't hoard gasoline in a false fear," said Franchot.

The comptroller's office is already working with gas suppliers, offering wavers and temporary permits to allow for easier distribution.

"They have been granted a waiver by the EPA to allow already stocked fuel to be used in the event that its needed… and normally that fuel would not be allowed to be sold until September for emissions reasons, etc., its not going to damage the environment," said Franchot.

Cyberattack Forces Shutdown Of Major U.S. Fuel Pipeline
WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY - MAY 10: Fuel holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline's Linden Junction Tank Farm on May 10, 2021 in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Alpharetta, Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, which has the largest fuel pipeline, was forced to shut down its oil and gas pipeline system on Friday after a ransomware attack that has slowed down the transportation of oil in the eastern U.S. On Sunday, the federal government announced an emergency declaration that extends through June 8th and can be renewed. On Monday, the FBI confirmed that the cyberattack was carried out by DarkSide, a cybercrime gang believed to operate out of Russia. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

AAA Mid-Atlantic is anticipating Maryland could see prices at the pump spike by up to 7 cents this week. Not only because of the hack, but also the higher summer demand.

"Maryland's average on Tuesday is 2.92 cents a gallon, that's actually up 6 cents from Friday," said Ragina C. Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic

"The price is definitely going up, it just went up in the past 3 days," said Timmy Johnson, Maryland resident.

The shutdown is also putting airports like BWI and others on the east coast at risk of low fuel supply.

Franchot predicts the impacts could last up to 10 days.

"The government is on top of this and hopefully they'll be able to get to the bottom of it sooner rather than later," said Franchot.

Colonial Pipeline is expected to be up and running by the end of the week.

In the meantime, the State Attorney General's office says they are also monitoring for price gouging.

Meanwhile the governors of North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia issued states of emergencies due to their fuel shortages.

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