Crude oil prices rise after Colonial Pipeline cyberattack

Colonial Pipeline Co. operates the 5,500 mile system taking fuel from the Gulf Coast to New York.

Crude prices rose Monday after a cyberattack shut down the largest pipeline system in the U.S. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
USO UNITED STATES OIL FUND L.P. 48.55 +0.50 +1.04%

Oil was about 1% higher. 

CYBERATTACK ON US PIPELINE COULD AFFECT GAS PRICES, EXPERT WARNS, AS FBI, DHS, DOE INVESTIGATE

Colonial Pipeline Co. operates the 5,500 mile system taking fuel from the refineries of the Gulf Coast to the New York metro area. 

The pipeline transports more than 100 million gallons a day, or roughly 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to the company's website. It delivers fuels including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil and serves U.S. military facilities.

While most experts expect gasoline prices to be unaffected if the pipeline is back online in the next few days, Yury Dvorkin, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, told FOX Business that a prolonged shutdown's effect on prices could be comparable to that of Hurricane Sandy. 

CYBERATTACK ON US PIPELINE IS LINKED TO CRIMINAL GANG

Colonial Pipeline said in a statement Sunday that its operations team was developing a system restart plan. 

"While our mainlines (Lines 1, 2, 3 and 4) remain offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational," the company said. "We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations."

According to Colonial, the attack involved ransomware, where an attacker seizes control of computer systems to demand a payoff. However, the company has not said what was demanded, who has made the demand, or whether a ransom has been paid.

The FBI, Department of Energy (DOE) and  Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have all said they are working in collaboration with Colonial Pipeline to get to the bottom of the attack. A DOE spokesperson told FOX Business the department "is monitoring any potential impacts to energy supply." FireEye Inc., a U.S.-based cybersecurity firm, is also investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the matter.

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A source close to the investigation told the Associated Press that the ransomware gang DarkSide was responsible for the attack. DarkSide is among ransomware gangs that have "professionalized" a criminal industry that has cost Western nations tens of billions of dollars in losses in the past three years.

DarkSide claims that it does not attack medical, educational or government targets — only large corporations — and that it donates a portion of its take to charity. It has been active since August and, typical of the most potent ransomware gangs, is known to avoid targeting organizations in former Soviet bloc nations.

A Colonial spokesperson declined to comment and DarkSide has not personally claimed responsibility for the pipeline attack.  

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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that ransomware attacks are "what businesses now have to worry about," and that she will work "very vigorously" with the Homeland Security Department to address the problem, calling it a top priority for the administration.

"Unfortunately, these sorts of attacks are becoming more frequent," Raimondo added. "We have to work in partnership with business to secure networks to defend ourselves against these attacks."

A White House spokesperson told FOX Business that an interagency working group has been created and has been working throughout the weekend to help solve the issue. The group continues to plan for a number of scenarios, including possible additional measures to mitigate potential supply impact, as needed.

In addition, the Department of Transportation is offering motor carriers and drivers transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products more flexibility through temporary hours of service exemption. 

"USDOT’s top priority is safety, and while current circumstances dictate providing industry flexibility, [the Federal Motor Commission Safety Administration] will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor driver work hours and conditions for the duration of the exemption," the agency said in a statement.

Fox Business' Morgan Phillips and the Associated Press contributed to this report