Patrick DeHaan, analyst for Gas Buddy, spoke to KGVO News on Thursday to give an overview of the Colonial Pipeline hack and where gas prices are headed.

DeHaan said the hackers demanded a $5 million ransom to release the pipeline.

“This apparently was started off by a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline’s computers, potentially somewhere in the back office in which a hacker group took over a computer encrypting it and leading Colonial Pipelines to potentially believe that their entire network had been infiltrated causing them to shut down their pipeline to limit the scope of the damage, and as a result of that shut down millions of gallons of refined product were not delivered, creating some hotspots in terms of availability across areas of the southeast the market that is served by the Colonial Pipeline.”

DeHaan said Colonial finally got a handle on the problem and restarted the pipeline.

“There were multiple parties looking into it,” he said. “Colonial said that they were going to restart by Friday, however as we sit here there's been some breaking news that Colonial has announced that it is now in the midst of restarting pipeline operations today. So that is certainly good news that may help immediately bring some sense of relief and help reduce the amount of hoarding and panic done by motorists which had been quite severe in the last week.”

DeHaan said demand has definitely been the culprit in rising gas prices.

“What has been pushing prices up as the factors that have done for the last several months is rising us gasoline demand, and the approaching summer driving season. We've seen transition to summer gasoline occur, and of course the rising price of oil. All of this really has to do with economic recovery as the nation returns from COVID-19 shutdowns.”

DeHaan said the three dollar per gallon benchmark has been reached for the first time in many years.

“The key benchmark broken is that the national average is at three dollars a gallon for the first time since 2014,” he said, “Things are returning to normal. The economy is improving. Now, that also means that gas prices are going up. But all in all, I expect it to be a fairly brisk summer of demand. Americans really can't fly overseas because of the myriad restrictions preventing them from doing so. So that's a lot of people on the road with you this summer that could lead to intense demand and prices at the higher levels that we've seen the last few summers but certainly far from record levels.”

In Missoula, gas prices are at or near three dollars a gallon.

 

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