A ransomware cyberattack forced the shutdown of a major U.S. pipeline between Texas and New York last week. To avoid disruption to the supply of diesel and other petroleum products, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking steps to create more flexibility for motor carriers and drivers hauling these products to the affected 18 states and Washington D.C.
FMCSA has issued a temporary hours-of-service exemption that applies to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Alabama, Arkansas, Washington D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
Colonial Pipeline shut down 5,500 miles of its pipeline in response to the cyberattack, the New York Times reported May 9. The “emergency conditions” create a need for immediate transportation of fuel, the FMCSA said in a press release.
The HOS exemption will terminate when “a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the shortages of refined petroleum products due to the shutdown of the Colonial pipeline system,” according to the FMCSA. Read the full declaration here.
As the Administration works to mitigate potential disruptions to supply as a result of the Colonial Pipeline incident, @USDOT is taking action today to allow flexibility for truckers in 17 states. https://twitter.com/USDOT/status/1391504873745747970— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) May 9, 2021
Implications of the shutdown and limited fuel supply could mean higher fuel prices. How much depends on the length of the shutdown. It may take days for normal conditions to return after the pipeline is back online, analysts at GasBuddy told CNN.
Meanwhile, the tanker industry has faced driver shortages that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic when demand for fuel fell, National Tank Truck Carriers officials told oilprice.com.
Editor's note: This article was updated at 1:30 p.m. CT on May 11 to include the addition of West Virigina to the list of states FMCSA's HOS exemption will cover.