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The US issued emergency transport measures after its largest fuel pipeline was hit by a ransomware cyberattack, but an analyst says measures won't do much to make up supply

By Grace Dean,

Colonial Pipeline has around 5,500 miles of pipeline.
  • Emergency measures issued Sunday aim to aid fuel delivery following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.
  • The measures mean drivers providing direct assistance are exempt from hours of service regulations.
  • An analyst told the BBC this still wouldn't be enough to meet demand.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page .

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued emergency measures to help restore fuel supply after a ransomware attack Friday forced the country's largest fuel pipeline offline .

President Joe Biden declared a regional emergency Sunday, allowing the new measures to be passed - but an analyst told Insider that the rules would "only help in a minor way."

USDOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a temporary hours-of-service exemption Sunday for people transporting refined petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, to the affected states along the East Coast.

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The measure, which became effective immediately, exempts motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance related to the fuel shortage from legislation that regulates how long they can work.

It covers drivers bringing supplies to Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

FMCSA said the temporary exemption would help provide "necessary relief" after the "unanticipated shutdown" of the Colonial pipeline system.

The exemption is in place until the end of the emergency, or 11:59 p.m. ET on June 8 - whichever is earlier.

"USDOT's top priority is safety, and while current circumstances dictate providing industry flexibility, FMCSA will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor driver work hours and conditions for the duration of the exemption," USDOT said in a statement.

Colonial Pipeline , the largest US refined fuel pipeline operator, said Saturday it had been "the victim of a cybersecurity attack" that took some systems offline and forced it to temporarily halt operations along its 5,500 miles of pipeline "to contain the threat."

It said the incident involved ransomware, but did not give further details. A criminal group called DarkSide could be behind the attack, multiple media outlets reported .

"This could be the most impactful ransomware attack in history, a cyber disaster turning into a real-world catastrophe," Andrew Rubin, CEO and co-founder of Illumio, told Insider.

It said late Sunday its four mainlines remained offline, but that some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points were operational again.

"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," Colonial said in a statement.

The company carries nearly half the fuel consumed by the East Coast, and transports more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and home-heating oil daily.

"The emergency measures lifting the restrictions on road fuel transportation will only help in a minor way," David Aron of Petroleum Development Consultants, a UK gas and oil advisory company, told Insider.

"There are likely to be big impacts on the Texas refineries and airports," he said.

Demand for fuel is on the rise as the US economy continues to reopen and more people are starting to travel , both for work and pleasure.

Brooke Cooper, principal solutions manager of third-party risk management at Fusion Risk Management, told Insider that the crisis showed how "preparedness and backup plans must be built in to every facet of third party management."

Cooper added that the shutdown, alongside the Suez blockage and the chip shortage, showed "the fragility of delivery systems" and the importance of operational resilience.

US crude oil futures were last up around 0.6% on the day at $65.23 a barrel, while gasoline futures were up 1.4% around $2.157 a gallon.

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