The Colonial pipeline resumed operations late on Wednesday, allowing petroleum supplies to begin reaching eastern US states five days after a cyber attack caused a shutdown that precipitated a run on fuel at petrol stations.
The pipeline’s owner said it initiated a restart of operations at approximately 5pm Eastern time, but cautioned it would take “several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal”.
The resumption of flows on the line was also confirmed in a tweet by Jennifer Granholm, the US energy secretary, who said that she had just spoken by phone with the chief executive of the Colonial Pipeline company.
The pipeline has capacity for 2.5m barrels a day of fuel, and is a critical artery delivering liquid fuels from oil refineries to states along the US eastern seaboard.
The reopening will bring relief to consumers fretting over fuel supplies. Panic buying in some locations of the US south-east led to shortages, with two-thirds of fuel stations in North Carolina reporting that they were without petrol on Wednesday afternoon as motorists hoarded fuel.
Colonial said that some of its markets “may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.”