Gas shortages in the East Coast region are beginning to ease, offering fuel-deprived filling stations some needed relief after a ransomware attack by a gang of hackers disrupted the nation’s largest fuel pipeline earlier this month.
"Every state is seeing an improvement" in outages at gas stations after the Colonial Pipeline restarted operations last week, GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan told FOX Business on Tuesday.
However, the fuel outages will improve "at a steady and slow pace due to other challenges, including the trucker shortage, lines at racks where tankers fill up," De Haan added.
De Haan projects that it will take five to 10 days "before the headaches of fueling are gone," which means consumers can pull into a station and get fuel. It will be upward of two weeks "before this is fully resolved and invisible to motorists," he said.
However, if the current pace of resupply continues, "we should be in decent shape for Memorial Day weekend," De Haan tweeted. Although, he cautioned that motorists should "delay filling up their tanks in the affected states when possible" in order to help.
The disruption to the Colonial Pipeline system earlier this month, which stretches from Texas to New Jersey and delivers about 45% of the gasoline consumed on the East Coast, left thousands of stations across a dozen states and Washington, D.C., drained of supplies.
The hackers didn’t take control of the pipeline operations, but Colonial shut the pipeline down to contain the damage. Even though Colonial initiated the restart of pipeline operations just a few days after the ransomware attack, the company cautioned that it would take several days for deliveries to return to normal.
Fuel shortages had spread from the South, with nearly 90% of the gas stations in the nation’s capital running dry. At one point, 45% were out in Virginia and 39% of Maryland stations were dry. About 65% of stations were without gas in North Carolina, and nearly half were tapped out in Georgia and South Carolina.
By Monday, however, outages slowly dwindled, with 1,672 stations being resupplied, up from 836 on Sunday, according to De Haan.
The number of stations without fuel is now "likely to drop under 10,000," which is an improvement of about 38% from the peak of 16,193 last Thursday, De Haan said in a tweet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.