Fights are breaking out at the pump in North Carolina, as a gasoline shortage across the southern Atlantic seaboard reaches crisis proportions after a Russian-linked cyberattack on a key oil pipeline.
Motorists in Knightdale, North Carolina, on the outskirts of Raleigh, traded blows on Tuesday as frustrations boiled over in a long line for gas at a Marathon station.
A witness said a woman tried to cut the line for gas, and then screamed obscenities and spit on a man who refused to let her cut in. The man jumped out of his vehicle, spit on the woman in return, and began grappling with her, video shows.
North Carolina has been the state hardest-hit by fuel shortages after the key Colonial Pipeline was disabled by a ransomware attack, but the impact of the crisis is rippling across the country, with the national average price of gas exceeding $3 for the first time since 2014.
In metro Atlanta, nearly 60 percent of all gas stations are dry, and across the state of North Carolina nearly a quarter of all stations have no gas, according to GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The Biden administration is urging motorists not to deepen the crisis with unnecessary panic buying, and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said officials are considering moving supply by train or ship if necessary.
Motorists in Knightdale, North Carolina, on the outskirts of Raleigh, traded blows on Tuesday as frustrations boiled over in a long line for gas at a Marathon station
A huge line forms for gasoline at Costco on Wendover Avenue in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Tuesday. As the shutdown of a major fuel pipeline entered into its fifth day, efforts are under way to stave off potential fuel shortages
A sign reading "Out of Fuel" is taped to the window at an Exxon Gas Station in Lynchburg, Virginia on Tuesday
Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Drivers wait in a long line to fill up their vehicles at a Kroger supermarket gas station in Decatur, Georgia on Tuesday. The FBI confirmed that Darkside ransomware is responsible for the attack that compromised the Colonial Pipeline
The governors of Florida, Virginia and Georgia joined North Carolina in declaring states of emergency Tuesday in a bid to protect fuel supplies, with some gas pumps already dry in Atlanta and other cities.
More than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast are now running out of fuel, according to S&P's Oil Price Information Service.
The Southeast is particularly vulnerable because it has fewer refineries and pipelines to deliver fuel, compared to the Northeast, which is less at risk. The Southeast is also less equipped to quickly import large quantities of gasoline from other countries, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ron DeSantis, Republican governor of Florida; Ralph Northam, the Democrat governor of Virginia, and Brian Kemp, Georgia's Republican governor, announced their state's emergency measures on Tuesday.
Their moves came a day after the governor of North Carolina took the same step.
Kemp announced the waiving of sales tax on gasoline until May 15 - a move which critics said could push more people to attempt to fill their cars at the pumps.
The states of emergency provide more leeway to local officials to deal with the crisis, and increases flexibility and funding for state and local governments to make sure they have enough fuel supply.
DeSantis on Tuesday night in an executive order, said 'the disruption of Colonial Pipeline operations poses a significant and immediate threat to the continued delivery of such fuel products to the State of Florida.'
Florida’s gasoline supplies are largely unaffected by the outage, but a rash of panic buying starting Monday — especially across north Florida — has caused local shortages.
Northam said: 'This emergency declaration will help the Commonwealth prepare for any potential supply shortages and ensure Virginia motorists have access to fuel as we respond to this evolving situation.'
Northam's order says that current gasoline reserves in Virginia are sufficient to address immediate supply concerns.
A government map shows a mishmash of pipelines, petroleum ports and petroleum refineries. The Southeastern area now under biggest stress shows little in the way of pipelines or refineries, whereas the Gulf area, the Northeast and the Midwest are well-covered, so aren't as at-risk from fuel shortages at the moment
People in Virginia were filling every container available with fuel amid panic over possible shortages
Motorists are seen lining up in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday to fill their cars amid concern about fuel shortages
A driver in Norfolk, Virginia, looks on as a fuel station announces they only have diesel
Elizabeth Dragomir (pictured) found her car ran out of gas in the parking lot in Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday
BJ's gas station in Norfolk, Virginia, was running out of gas on Tuesday
Kemp urged residents not to panic buy gas, and announced the state is increasing the state is increasing the weight limits for trucks transporting fuel, providing more supply for stations as they receive deliveries
Kemp signed an executive order to temporarily suspend the gas tax in Georgia in light of the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack.
He urged Georgians not to panic buy, and also announced that the state is increasing the weight limits for trucks transporting fuel, providing more supply for stations as they receive deliveries.
A small gas station chain, Parker's, which serves Georgia and South Carolina, announced on Facebook on Tuesday that customers would be limited to $50 worth of gas.
The governor's office said in a release that the order further prohibits price gouging by bad actors looking to exploit the situation.
'My office has been in close contact with company and industry officials since we first learned of the Colonial cyber attack over the weekend,' said Kemp.
'Unfortunately, extensive media coverage has caused people to panic which has resulted in higher gas prices. We are taking action to relieve some of the cost burden from Georgians as Colonial recovers by suspending fuel taxes, increasing the weight limit for supply trucks, and prohibiting price gouging.
'We expect these measures to be temporary as Colonial plans to be fully up and running later this week. There is no need to rush to the gas station to fill up every tank you have and hoard gas.
'With the measures we have taken today, I am hopeful we can get more supply to stations and get through to this weekend when we hope Colonial will return to normal.'
Jennifer Granholm, the energy secretary, urged calm.
'We know that we have gasoline; we just have to get it to the right places,' she said.
S&P's Oil Price Information Service put the number of gas stations encountering shortages at more than 1,000.
'A lot of that is because they're selling three or four times as much gasoline that they normally sell in a given day, because people do panic,' said Tom Kloza, an analyst with S&P.
'It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.'
Colonial Pipeline was attacked on Thursday, and closed from Friday until Monday.
It is beginning to be brought back on line, but the company - which provides 45 per cent of all fuel to the East Coast of the U.S. - warns that full service may not be resumed until the end of the week.
American Airlines has been forced to add refuel stops to two long haul flights from its Charlotte, North Carolina hub as a likely effort to conserve fuel in areas where it could run short.
'We're seeing a gas run,' said Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis.
'Now we're going to see more dramatic [effects] as people run to the stations and run them dry.'
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a temporary fuel transportation waiver to increase the supply of gas.
Tankers are transporting fuel by road from Texas to areas such as Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, where long lines are forming as people panic-buy.
Gas prices have spiked to a seven-year high after the Pipeline was forced to shut off the nation's biggest fuel pipeline in the wake of a cyberattack.
Some fuel distributors warned of 'catastrophic' shortages across the South and Northeast.
The national average for retail gasoline prices was at $2.985 as of Tuesday, according to the American Automobile Association. The last time the average gas prices were above $2.99 was back in November 2014.
Colonial Pipeline has said it is trying to 'substantially' restore operations by the end of the week but reports of gas shortages and panic buying are already emerging with motorists lining up from Florida to Virginia for fuel.
The FBI has confirmed that DarkSide, a Russian hacking outfit made up of ransomware veterans, was responsible for the attack.
Colonial Pipeline said it was working to 'substantially' resume operations by the end of this week but reports of gas shortages are already emerging up and down the East Coast as motorists were spotted lining up in Atlanta on Tuesday morning
As the shutdown entered its fifth day, dozens of motorists lined up in Atlanta, Georgia for gas on Tuesday amid shortages due to the Colonial shut down
The national average for retail gasoline prices was at $2.985 as of Tuesday, according to the American Automobile Association. The last time the average gas prices were above $2.99 was back in November 2014
The attack on Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Texas to New Jersey and transports 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel supply, is the largest assault on US energy infrastructure in history and has sent shockwaves across the industry
The White House has declined to say whether companies that have been hacked should pay a ransom to their attackers, saying it is a private sector issue
A Maryland fuel distributer warned there would be 'catastrophic' shortages in the next few days, as the shutdown enters its fifth day (pictured, drivers line up to fill their tanks in Jackson, Mississippi)
Drivers in Lynchburg, Virginia rushed to fill up their tanks last night as more than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast reported running out of fuel
A cyberattack has forced the shutdown of 5,500 miles of Colonial Pipeline's sprawling interstate system, leaving locals rushing to buy as much gas as possible
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday denied any involvement. His spokesman said: 'Russia has nothing to do with these hacker attacks, and had nothing to do with the previous hacker attacks. We categorically do not accept any accusations against us.'
Colonial, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia, hasn't said whether it has already paid or is negotiating a ransom with the hackers.
The White House earlier declined to say whether companies that are hacked like Colonial should pay ransom to their attackers, saying instead that it was typically a 'private sector decision' - a move that has since been condemned by cybersecurity experts.
Meanwhile, as the shutdown entered its fifth day, a Maryland fuel distributor warned there would be 'catastrophic' shortages in the coming days given Colonial has only managed to restore some services in the wake of the hack.
'It's going to be catastrophic,' John Patrick, chief operating officer of Liberty Petroleum LLC, told Bloomberg.
'Governors should declare a state of emergency and ask people chasing tanker trucks to gas stations to stay home. School buses stay put.'
Fears of a looming shortage have already prompted panic buying with gas stations in various cities already running out of fuel or restricting sales.
Long lines of cars were spotted awaiting for gas at a Costco in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday morning
Colonial said it was working to 'substantially' resume operations by the end of this week but reports of gas shortages are already emerging up and down the East Coast, Pictured above is a gas station in Atlanta
As the shutdown entered its fifth day, motorists lined up across the South for gas. Pictured above is a gas station in Smyrna, Georgia on Monday
Drivers in Asheville, North Carolina, posted photos of long lines waiting to fill up their cars
Gas stations from Florida to Virginia have closed their pumps and a state of emergency has been declared by the governor of North Carolina after Colonial Pipeline was forced to shut off the nation's big fuel pipeline when it was hacked
The American Automobile Association is predicting that gas prices will only surge as a result of the shutdown after the national gas price average jumped six cents to $2.9. Pictured above is a gas station in Atlanta on Monday
On the streets, motorists in Atlanta were reporting having to go to three different gas stations to fill up (pictured, cars line up at a QuickTrip in Atlanta)
A clerk at a gas station in North Carolina told a reporter with WLOS the phone was ringing constantly with people desperately trying to find fuel
Motorist were also lining up for hours across Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia ahead of an expected gasoline shortage (pictured, vehicles waiting to refuel in Waynesville, North Carolina)
Motorists were also lining for hours across Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.
The AAA had already warned that gasoline prices could spike three to seven cents per gallon this week and said that there also could be 'limited fuel availability' in places.
'This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and price, but the impact will vary regionally,' an AAA spokesperson said.
'Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the East Coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and prices increases as early as this week.
The cyberextortion attack that forced the shutdown of America's largest fuel pipeline was carried out by a criminal gang known as DarkSide that is believed to based out of Russia where they are given free rein to target Western countries.
DarkSide is made up of veteran cybercriminals but insists it is not political. Like many others, however, DarkSide seems to spare Russian, Kazakh and Ukrainian-speaking companies, which does suggest a link to Russia.
Ransomware rackets are now dominated by Russian-speaking cybercriminals who are shielded - and sometimes employed - by Russian intelligence agencies, according to US officials.
Cyber experts say Russia gives free rein to hackers who target the US and European countries.
DarkSide has already boasted that it has been paid millions of dollars in ransom from 80 companies across the US and Europe.
'Whether they work for the state or not is increasingly irrelevant, given Russia's obvious policy of harboring and tolerating cybercrime,' Dmitri Alperovitch, a former CTO of CrowdStrike, told NBC of DarkSide's recent hacking.
The FBI on Monday confirmed that DarkSide was responsible for the attack on Colonial Pipeline that has experts fearing widespread gas shortages and significant price hikes. The federal agency did not mention DarkSide's ties to Russia.
The US last month slapped sanctions on Russia for malign activities including state-backed hacking. The Treasury Department said Russian intelligence has enabled ransomware attacks by cultivating and co-opting criminal hackers and giving them safe harbor.
DarkSide, which cultivates a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity, said in a statement posted on the dark web that their only goal was to 'make money' and not create problems for society.
'We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics,' the statement read. 'Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.'
'From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.'
Despite only emerging in August last year, DarkSide appears to be very organized, experts say.
Those who have tracked DarkSide said it appears to be composed of veteran cybercriminals who are focused on squeezing out as much money as they can from their targets.
'They're very new but they're very organized,' Lior Div, the chief executive of Boston-based security firm Cybereason, said. 'It looks like someone who's been there, done that.'
DarkSide is one of a number of increasingly professionalized groups of digital extortionists, with a mailing list, a press center and a victim hotline to help facilitate ransom payments.
Experts say DarkSide was likely composed of ransomware veterans and that it came out of nowhere in the middle of last year and immediately unleashed a digital crimewave.
DarkSide's site on the dark web hints at their hackers' past crimes with claims they previously made millions from extortion and that just because their software was new 'that