A pipeline that supplies nearly half the fuel to the east coast was shut down by a cyber attack on Friday, according to Colonial Pipeline, but it's impact on the Seacoast and the rest of New England is minimal at this point.

The pipeline carries more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil from several points in Texas to Linden, New Jersey just outside New York City daily.

"In response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems," the company said in a statement.

Colonial said they contacted law enforcement and hired a third-party cybersecurity firm to investigate "the nature and scope of this incident."

Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service told Seacoast Current that New England region is not as dependent on oil from the pipeline that used to be brought via barge from New Jersey and is out of the "danger zone" in terms of an impact on supply and price.

"New England and the Middle Atlantic have become much more dependent on a couple of local refineries and also foreign gasoline," Kloza said. "As much as we think gasoline is a problem in the U.S. it's a real problem with demand in Europe. We've been importing probably as much gasoline as we've ever imported in the last three weeks."

He said that the area south of Baltimore will be mostly affected by potential price hikes and shortages.

"I would compare it to a 2.0 on the Richter scale. It's no big deal. But if you get up to where five days are lost. Or six days are lost then it will have a big impact.

Until the issue is remedied fuel is sitting in pipelines, according to Kloza, who said it's not yet clear who is responsible for the cyber attack or whether or not it's ransomware.

He cautioned that ransomware holding up the flow of product is new territory for the oil industry .

"You lose a mile of Colonial Pipeline pipe they can immediately replace that in a few days. But I just don't know what it's like when you have sophisticated software and you have 'bad actors' putting in all sorts of locks. This is a new one," Kloza said.

Colonial Pipeline facility in Bordentown, NJ
Colonial Pipeline facility in Bordentown, NJ (Dennis Symons, MidJersey.news)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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