AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A fear of rising gas prices after the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack has some lined up at local gas stations. But experts say gas is not a scarcity. While there is a temporary slow down, “panic buying” is often mistaken for a shortage.
It’s similar to last March during the Coronavirus outbreak when there often wasn’t any toilet paper on grocery store shelves. Not because there was a toilet paper shortage, but because people bought in bulk as soon as it hit the shelves.
“Don’t panic buy,” Georgia public affairs director for AAA, Garrett Townsend said. “Don’t go out of your normal routine for buying gasoline because when that happens, that really compounds the issue, and there is more people vying for that gasoline at the station than there needs to be.”
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order temporarily suspending gas tax in the state, and activating Georgia’s price gouging statues.
Kemp said, “There is no need to rush to the gas station to fill up every tank you have and hoard gas.”
The state of emergency is in place through May 15. He said, “We expect these measures to be temporary as Colonial plans to be fully up and running later this week.”
Colonial Pipeline delivers 45 percent of fuel in the southeast. They were victim to a ransomware attack by the group “DarkSide”.
“Ransomware is when somebody takes over your system or your network, and in order to release it or go active again, you have to give them a ransom,” said Dr. Craig Albert, professor of intelligence and security studies at Augusta University. “And for this group it’s usually between like $200 thousand and $2 million, so it’s quite significant.”
In a statement Friday, Colonial Pipeline said they temporarily halted operations to contain the threat.
“They found out about it, it looks like, before the full attack was initiated. So then they shut everything off as a preemptive move,” Dr. Albert said.
While experts advise against hoarding gasoline, they say if you find yourself running low, make an effort to conserve fuel.
“If you have to run errands, plan it in advance, do all your errands at one time,” Townsend said. “You want to increase your miles per gallon. So if you have ‘junk in the trunk’ so to speak, take that out so that you can travel a little bit lighter, and increase those miles per gallon.”