In the United States, drivers are desperately looking for fuel: Americans hoard gasoline after a hacker attack on a pipeline. President Biden called on the population not to buy more than usual.

An “Out of Fuel” sign is taped to the window of an Exxon gas station on Boonsboro Road.

NAfter the cyber attack on the largest gasoline pipeline in the USA, panic buying and bottlenecks at petrol stations occurred again on the east coast of the country. The US capital Washington was particularly hard hit: on Thursday evening (local time) three out of four gas stations ran out of fuel, as Patrick De Haan from the market analysis company Gasbuddy announced on Twitter. In the state of North Carolina, 69 percent of the gas stations were without gas. In South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia, roughly every second pump was out of order. Other states on the east coast also suffered from bottlenecks.

Washington drivers desperately searched for fuel Thursday. US President Joe Biden called on Americans not to “panic”. “Don’t buy more gasoline than you need in the next few days,” he said in the White House on Thursday. The supply will soon return to normal. “Panic buying will only delay it.” To see queues at gas stations is frightening, the US president admitted. The most important thing is now “not to panic”.

Was Russia involved?

Biden said the pipeline should be back in full capacity on Thursday, after which the bottlenecks should resolve by the weekend or early next week at the latest. This is a “temporary situation”, emphasized Biden. The pipeline is very important to the US supply, it carries about 45 percent of all fuels consumed on the east coast.

Blackmailers had paralyzed the pipeline of the operating company Colonial last Friday with a hacker attack. The pipeline’s operation came to a complete standstill, causing gasoline bottlenecks in parts of the country. The private operator of the pipeline had gradually resumed operations on Wednesday. Biden said Thursday there was strong evidence that the attack originated in Russia. The US government does not assume that the Kremlin was involved.

Much of the background to the cyber attack remains unclear. For example, it is unknown how much money the hacker group DarkSide, which is believed to be responsible for the attack, wanted to extort from Colonial. So far, the company has also kept a low profile on whether ransom money has been paid at all. When asked about possible ransom payments on Thursday, Biden said: “I’m not commenting on that.”