UPDATE 1-U.S. fuel supplies tighten as energy pipeline outage enters fifth day
Updates with website details, Russia denies involvement
By Laura Sanicola, Stephanie Kelly and Devika Krishna Kumar
May 11 (Reuters) - Supplies of gasoline tightened further in parts of the United States on Tuesday as the shutdown of the nation’s biggest fuel pipeline by hackers entered its fifth day, raising concern about price spikes at the pumps ahead of the summer driving season.
The Colonial Pipeline said it was working toward a substantial restart of operations by the end of this week after a cyberattack forced it to cease operations on Friday, choking off nearly half of the East Coast's fuel supply and underscoring the vulnerability of U.S. energy infrastructure to hackers.
Colonial's website was down early on Tuesday, which Colonial said was a "temporary service disruption" unrelated to the ransomware. nL4N2MY1VI
The FBI has accused a shadowy criminal gang called DarkSide of the ransomware attack. DarkSide is believed to be based in Russia or Eastern Europe and avoids targeting computers that use languages from former Soviet republics, cyber experts say.
Russia's embassy in the United States on Tuesday rejected speculation that Moscow was responsible for the attack. nL8N2MY24F
President Joe Biden on Monday said there was no evidence thus far that Russia's government was involved, but said there was evidence that the culprits' ransomware was in Russia. nW1N2M101I
Ransomware is a type of malware designed to lock computers by encrypting data and demanding payment to regain access.
A statement issued in DarkSide's name on Monday said: "Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society." nL1N2MX12A
It is unknown how much money the hackers are seeking, and Colonial has not commented on whether it would pay. nL1N2MW0F3
The top U.S. energy regulator issued a call on Monday for mandatory cybersecurity standards for pipeline operators. "Encouraging pipelines to voluntarily adopt best practices is an inadequate response," said Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Richard Glick.
Fuel supply disruption has driven gasoline prices at the pump to a three-year high and demand has spiked in some areas served by the pipeline as motorists fill their tanks.
National average pump prices are approaching their highest levels since May 2014, the American Automobile Association said. The association warned against hoarding, saying that thins supplies further. nL1N2MX1NL
Florida resident Katina Willey told Reuters on Monday she went to five gas stations before she found one that had fuel available. "There were lines at three of the five stations I tried," she said. Other motorists said they were also seeking to fill up for fear the situation could worsen.
If the disruption stretches on, fuel suppliers could ship by trucks and rail instead to make up for some of the shortfalls. The Department of Transportation on Sunday lifted driver restrictions on fuel haulers in 17 states affected by the shutdown. nW1N2KZ01E
Citgo Petroleum Corp [RIC:RIC:PDVSAC.UL] cut production at its 418,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Lake Charles, Louisiana, refinery and Total TOTF.PA reduced gasoline production at its 225,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas due to the pipeline outage, sources told Reuters on Monday. nL1N2MX1U7nL1N2MX2HI
U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, including Marathon Petroleum MPC.N, Valero Energy VLO.N, Phillips 66 PSX.N and PBF Energy PBF.N, booked at least four tankers to store fuel off the Gulf Coast. nL1N2MY0M5
(Reporting by Laura Sanicola, Stephanie Kelly and Devika Krishna Kumar; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Peter Cooney and Barbara Lewis)