The nation's largest fuel pipeline restarted operations Wednesday, days after it was forced to shut down by a gang of hackers. The disruption caused long lines at gas stations in the Southeast due to distribution problems and panic-buying, draining supplies at thousands of gas stations. Colonial initiated the restart of pipeline operations late Wednesday, saying in a statement that "all lines, including those lateral lines that have been running manually, will return to normal operations," the AP reports. But it will take several days for deliveries to return to normal, the company said. In the meantime, drivers have been finding gas stations with little or no gas in some Southeastern states.
Some markets "may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period," the company said in a statement, per the New York Times. Although there was no gasoline shortage, there was a problem getting the fuel from refineries on the Gulf Coast to the states that need it, and officials were scrambling to find alternate routes to deliver it. The pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, runs from the Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan region, but states in the Southeast are more reliant on it. In North Carolina, 65% of gas stations were out of fuel Wednesday, according to Gasbuddy.com, a technology firm that tracks real-time fuel prices across the country. (The federal government issued a warning about hoarding gas in plastic bags.)