(NEXSTAR) – Colonial Pipeline issued a statement Wednesday saying it had initiated the restart of pipeline operations as of 5 p.m. ET.
The company warned that it will take several days for the supply chain to return to normal.
“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period,” the statement read. “Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.”
The announcement comes after President Biden expressed optimism that a close to the nightmare for drivers in the Southeast was close to resolution following a cyberattack Friday that froze pipeline operations.
“We have been in very, very close contact with Colonial Pipeline,” Biden said Wednesday. “I think you’re going to hear some good news in the next 24 hours and I think we’ll be getting that under control.”
Colonial Pipeline delivers about 45% of the East Coast’s gas. The pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan region, but states in the Southeast are more reliant on the pipeline. Other parts of the country have more sources to tap. For example, a substantial amount of fuel is delivered to states in the Northeast by massive tankers.
Panic-buyers flooded gas stations on the East Coast prompting states such as North Carolina and Virginia to issue states of emergency.
In North Carolina, 65% of gas stations were out of fuel, according to Gasbuddy.com, a technology firm that tracks real-time fuel prices across the country. Just outside Raleigh, two people were charged with assault after fighting and spitting in each other’s faces while arguing over their spots in line Tuesday at a Marathon gas station, authorities said.
Georgians were also getting squeezed, with 43% of stations there out of gas, according to Gasbuddy.com. In Virginia, 44% of stations were out, and in South Carolina, 16% had no fuel.
“What you’re feeling is not a lack of supply or a supply issue. What we have is a transportation issue,” said Jeanette McGee, spokeswoman for the AAA auto club. “There is ample supply to fuel the United States for the summer, but what we’re having an issue with is getting it to those gas stations because the pipeline is down.”
The White House said Wednesday that the Department of Transportation is now allowing states served by the pipeline to use interstate highways to transport overweight loads of gasoline and other fuels. But there’s a national trucker shortage, so the industry isn’t able to put many more trucks on the road.
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline ticked above $3 for the first time since 2016 Wednesday, according to the AAA. Prices begin to rise around this time every year and the auto club said Wednesday that the average price hit $3.008 nationally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.