Pipeline love as gas shortage rages, Colonial remains offline

Gas prices topped $3 per gallon Wednesday

With gas supplies in jeopardy and consumers panicking, suddenly it seems that everyone now loves pipelines, even U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm who in the past suggested that she never saw a pipeline that she liked. 

GAS TOPS $3.00 AS COLONIAL REMAINS OFFLINE

In a sharp reversal, she is now saying that the government could give orders quickly to prioritize the pipelines to the most in-demand locations.

Colonial Pipeline Company connects refineries with customers and markets throughout the Southern and Eastern United States through a pipeline system that spans more than 5,500 miles between Houston, Texas and Linden, N.J.

Following the cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline, the anti-pipeline crowd just received a lesson in the vital importance of these vast, critical transfer systems to the economy. Now we are hearing complaints that ask, why are we so dependent on just one pipeline?   

COLONIAL PIPELINE USING OUTDATED MICROSOFT EXCHANGE: REPORT

As lines at gas stations up and down the East Coast snake longer, Granholm told consumers to keep cool.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
USO UNITED STATES OIL FUND L.P. 48.51 +0.46 +0.96%
UGA UNITED STATES GASOLINE FUND LP PARTNERSHIP UNITS 34.60 +0.44 +1.29%

"Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline, especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend," she said during a White House news briefing on Tuesday. 

Still, on Wednesday, prices at the pump crossed the $3-per-gallon level. 

While Granholm may be correct in that hoarding is stressing the system vs. a shortage, many consumers have real concerns that they may not have enough gas due to the lack of confidence they have in the system when a hacking group known as the Darkside easily took control of the pipeline. 

COLONIAL PIPELINE ATTACK TIP OF INFRASTRUCTURE RISK

On Tuesday, during a hearing before Congress, acting Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Brandon Wales did not rule out that another similar attack on U.S. infrastructure could be in the works. 

This time it was a pipeline, next time it could be a refinery or a nuclear power plant putting many lives at risk.

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Colonial Pipeline is set to deliver an update on Wednesday with the Biden administration giving a briefing on the cyberattack at 5 p.m. ET. 

Pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to move fuel, and with many tanker trucks sitting idle the ability to respond to gas panic buying is a logistical nightmare.   

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Phil Flynn is senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor. He is one of the world's leading market analysts, providing individual investors, professional traders, and institutions with up-to-the-minute investment and risk management insight into global petroleum, gasoline, and energy markets. His precise and timely forecasts have come to be in great demand by industry and media worldwide and his impressive career goes back almost three decades, gaining attention with his market calls and energetic personality as writer of The Energy Report. You can contact Phil by phone at (888) 264-5665 or by email at pflynn@pricegroup.com.