Challenges with Colonial Pipeline Shutdown

Challenges with Colonial Pipeline Shutdown

Maytag Aircraft Corporation encountered challenges in May 2021 when the Colonial Pipeline underwent a ransomware cyberattack. The pipeline originates in Houston Texas and supplies both gasoline and jet fuel to the eastern U.S. and as far north as New York.

According to President and Chief Operating Officer David Nelson, when the pipeline’s operations were halted to contain the attack, Maytag “learned the hard way how long this pipeline was and that it supplied so much fuel to the region.”

Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia, and Whiting Field were all affected. The shutdown caused an immediate shortage of trucks available in the region to deliver fuel.

“It’s really a logistics story,” says Nelson. “We had the fuel in the region, but the pipeline shutdown increased the demand for tank trucks, so we had no efficient way to get fuel to the bases from the large regional storage tanks.” The immediate shortages were not with critical jet fuel but with diesel and ground fuel.  Bases ran out and there were lines at gas stations reminiscent of the 1970’s gas lines.

As of late May, Redstone was still having issues and the other bases felt impacts for two to three weeks.

Now that we understand that hackers can influence the supply of fuel, Nelson believes there may be a re-thinking of fuel storage and contracts with truckers.

“I never thought we’d experience something like this due to cyber issues. We are going to see a growing demand for cybersecurity, ransomware insurance, and to elevate security in defense contractors.”

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