There’s good news about the Colonial Pipeline: it’s back online. The even better news is that Colorado wasn’t affected by the shutdown of the oil pipeline and shouldn’t be as it takes a few days for operations to return to normal.
Colonial, which serves the East Coast, was shut off Friday after a ransomware attack. The company said it restarted operations Wednesday afternoon.
The FBI has said the attack was carried out by an organized crime group called DarkSide.
Colorado doesn’t depend on the Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Houston to the New York Harbor and moves about 2.5 million barrels of refined oil a day. But that fact hasn’t stopped people from inundating AAA Colorado with questions about the effects of the shutdown on them.
“I’m happy to take the calls because the message is good: there’s no reason to panic,” said Skyler McKinley, the organization’s spokesman. “The good news is that in Colorado we’re fine.”
The Colonial Pipeline doesn’t supply Colorado, said Tony Scott, managing director of analytics for BTU Analytics in Lakewood.
“But it’s essentially the heart and artery of the entire Eastern Seaboard fuel supply,” Scott said.
The Suncor Energy refinery in Commerce City supplies a lot of the refined oil used in the Denver area, Scott said. A couple of refineries in Cheyenne, Wyo., about 100 miles north of Denver, and pipelines out of Oklahoma also supply the area.
“Colorado drivers should not worry about fuel shortages close to home since our gasoline and diesel mainly comes from refineries in Northern Texas and the Midwest on multiple pipeline systems” and weren’t targeted in the attack, said Jesse Mercer, senior director of crude market analytics at Enverus.
“However, the operators of those pipelines as well as state lawmakers should pay close attention to the situation on the East Coast because the Commerce City refinery is the only refinery in the state and it’s a relatively small one at only 98,000 barrels per day of distillation capacity,” Mercer said in an email. “That one refinery would not help us much if one or more pipelines coming in from out of state suffered a similar attack.”
McKinley said Denver-area motorists might see “some upward ripple in gas prices” as a result of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. But prices would have risen anyway, he said.
Colorado’s average price for a gallon of gas is $3.01 and will continue to rise ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, according to AAA Colorado.
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