Cyberattack of Colonial Pipeline drives panic buying in Tampa Bay

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – By Tuesday evening, the Russian computer hack of a major U.S. pipeline that does not supply Tampa Bay triggered panic buying in the region. 

“We still have gas, not much,” said Teara Brown, a clerk at a Mobil gas station on Gandy Boulevard. “The price is going up.” 

Roger Rodriguez said he drove to that Mobil station after finding all of the pumps covered with yellow “Sorry out of service” bags at a Circle K Shell station in South Tampa.

“I’ve already filled up my girlfriend’s car,” he said. “Now, I’m filling up mine.”

Despite the Colonial Pipeline outage, Mark Jenkins from AAA told 8 On Your Side ships continue to deliver gas to Tampa Bay from refineries in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 

“What we’re seeing here is more of a shortage created by drivers themselves,” Jenkins said. “It is panic buying. Something we see before and after a hurricane.” 

While prices have not skyrocketed in Tampa Bay, Jenkins said panic buying could end up making drivers pay more at the pump. 

“Throughout a lot of states here in the southeast gasoline sales are up 2 to 3 times compared to normal levels,” he explained, “so there is tremendous amount of people converging at the pump at one time.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Florida in part to allow more trucks to move more easily throughout the state. 

“My fear is you have these gas shortages, it’s going to cause a lot of problems for people just the convenience of life but also for our economy,” the governor said. 

Gov. DeSantis also said the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack needs serious attention from the federal government. 

“This was essentially a cyber attack on critical infrastructure in our country,” he said.

At the Mobil on Gandy that still had gas Tuesday night, Brown said she is not too worried.

“Just stop panicking,” she said. “That’s what I think (drivers) should do.”

Experts say now is not the time to be hoarding gas — if you don’t need it, don’t race to your local gas station. 

A large part of the pipeline resumed operations manually late Monday, and Colonial anticipates restarting most of its operations by the end of the week, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.

Experts say there is no real cause for concern if Colonial Pipeline meets that goal of restoring most service. 

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