Jet-A fuel tanks
The five-day shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline—which supplies petroleum fuels to the U.S. East Coast—caused panic among motorists in the Southeast. FBOs, however, have thus far seen relatively minor impact, if any, on their scheduled fuel deliveries.

Colonial Pipeline Restarts Fuel Transport After Cyberattack

The conduit carries more than two million barrels of product a day and supplies nearly half of the U.S. East Coast’s petroleum fuels, including jet-A.

The transport of fuel through the Colonial Pipeline resumed on May 12  after a five-day interruption due to a cyberattack on its operator. According to reports in Bloomberg, a $5 million ransom was paid to restore control of the pipeline.

Shutdown of the conduit—which carries more than two million barrels of product a day and supplies nearly half of the U.S. East Coast’s petroleum fuels, including jet-A—caused some areas to experience fuel disruptions, as distributors scrambled to arrange logistics at alternate terminals, resulting in many cases in the trucking of fuel for longer distances. With the available outflow reduced, some Gulf Coast oil refineries decided to temporarily curtail production.

The shutdown spurred a run on gasoline stations in the southern U.S. by panicked drivers, causing many stations to run dry, and led the airlines to modify some flight schedules, adding stops to refuel stops in unaffected cities. However, FBOs seem to have come through the crisis relatively unscathed.          

“While we continue to hear that the general aviation market is not experiencing widespread jet fuel outages, we advise operators to remain vigilant in planning and preparing for operations until normal pipeline operations return,” said Steve Berry, the National Air Transportation Association’s manager of fuel quality and safety. “In the interim, some FBOs in potentially affected areas have enacted minimum uplift policies. As a result, aircraft operators traveling to these areas should continue to plan accordingly, such as tankering fuel when traveling from unaffected regions and communicating with their destination FBO prior to arrival to determine its anticipated supply.” Berry cautioned that gasoline shortages could also affect ground transportation.