Colonial Pipeline restarts operations; governor urges Georgians not to hoard gasoline

ATLANTA — Colonial Pipeline says it has initiated the restart of pipeline operations Wednesday, but it will take several days for the supply to get back to normal in metro Atlanta.

Colonial Pipeline was hit by a cyberattack last weekend and was forced to shut down its system.

[READ: US agency warns ‘do not fill plastic bags with gasoline’]

“It will take several days for the product delivery 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 company said in a statement. “This is the first step in the restart process and would not have been possible without the around-the-clock support of Colonial Pipeline’s dedicated employees who have worked tirelessly to help us achieve this milestone.”

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The announcement comes just a couple of hours after Gov. Brian Kemp urged Georgians to remain calm and not to hoard gas.

“Please do not go out and fill up every 5-gallon can that you have. Doing so will only mean the shortage will last longer and more Georgians will be unable to make it to work, take their kids to school or get to their medical appointment,” Kemp said.

As of Thursday morning, about half of the gas station in Georgia are without fuel and in metro Atlanta, 71% are out of gas, according to GasBuddy.com.

During a news conference Wednesday, Kemp said the state also got the approval from the EPA to use their winter blend fuel to help ease outages at the pumps across metro Atlanta.

[READ: Cybersecurity experts say pipeline attack should be a ‘wake-up call’ for everyone]

The governor also said the state is ready in case there are other cyberattacks in the future. Kemp said he’s activated a recently formed cyber security board but he had very little information about what is happening with Colonial Pipeline.

“It would be great if we could get some more,” Kemp said about possible talks with Colonial Pipeline about how they are doing with handling this gas shortage.

He told Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston that, surprisingly, he doesn’t have a lot of details.

“To be quite honest with you, the feds have taken the lead on these cyber instances. Homeland Security, FBI, we’re just not getting a lot of information from them,” Kemp said.

Huddleston spoke to cyber security expert Willis McDonald on Wednesday as well. McDonald has spent more than 20 years in the industry. He said cyber crooks not only want to disrupt systems, but also extort money from companies like Colonial Pipeline.

[READ: Griffin police search for thief who tried to steal gas from U-Haul truck]

“They not only shut systems down and attacking them, they also take data that is known to be sensitive or embarrassing for a company,” McDonald said.

Until this is over, the head the Georgia’s Emergency Management Agency, Chris Stallings, said they are on standby.

“We’re monitoring the situation, answering calls as need be, trying to find a way to get fuel out to our local partners,” Stallings said.

Colonial Pipeline said it will be doing a comprehensive review of the whole system as it gets back to normal operations.

“As we initiate our return to service, our primary focus remains safety. As part of this startup process, Colonial will conduct a comprehensive series of pipeline safety assessments in compliance with all Federal pipeline safety requirements,” Colonial Pipeline said.