Potential for two major fuel pipeline shutdowns this week shows fragility of North America’s energy system – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – May 11, 2021)


CALGARY — A cyberattack that knocked out the main oil pipeline supplying the U.S. Eastern Seaboard comes days before a state-imposed deadline to shut a major Canadian conduit that could send prices soaring for consumers, highlighting the fragility of North America’s energy infrastructure.

“These recent events completely lift the hood on how vulnerable infrastructure is to attack now,” said Michael Tran, energy strategist at RBC Capital Markets in New York, adding the attack on the Colonial Pipeline Co. “was not just any pipeline” but “the key artery” supplying the most populated parts of the United States.

A ransomware attack Friday on the Colonial Pipeline, which ships gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from U.S. Gulf Coast refineries to consumers in 14 states on the U.S. East Coast, has forced the largest conduit of refined products in the U.S. to go offline.

In a statement on Monday, Colonial said it expects to “substantially” restore operational service by the end of the week.

The outage on the Colonial Pipeline could be exacerbated by a Michigan state order forcing Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 pipeline — supplying oil to Michigan, Ohio, Ontario and Pennsylvania refineries — to shut down on Wednesday, which could further strain U.S. oil supply.

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