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Pipeline cyberattack won’t hurt Arizona motorists, gas expert says

Fuel holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline's Linden Junction Tank Farm on May 10, 2021 in Woodbridge, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona gas prices are unlikely to rise as a result of last week’s cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline, according to a national expert.

If anything, prices at the pump could actually go down in some parts of the state, GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Monday.

“Product is going to start stacking up in the Gulf Coast, in Texas specifically,” De Haan said. “And keeping in mind that portions of Arizona are supplied by Texas, that could make eastern Arizona prices perhaps drop a couple of cents.”

Don’t expect any impact in Phoenix, which along with the western part of Arizona is supplied from the West Coast.

“The state is kind of split in two, but overall not really much of an impact at all,” De Haan said. “If anything, it may cause price in the eastern half of the state to drift a little lower, but no concerns of any outages for Arizona.”

Colonial Pipeline said Monday it expects to have service mostly restored by the end of this week.

The company offered the update after revealing Friday that it had halted operations because of a ransomware attack the FBI has linked to a criminal gang.

The pipeline runs through 10 states from New Jersey to Texas and delivers an estimated 45% of fuel consumed on the U.S. East Coast.

Arizona gas prices have been hovering just above $3 for the past two months, according to GasBuddy.

There could be an upcoming bump, De Haan said, but it would likely be the result of higher demand as the economy improves, not any kind of supply issue.

“It may get a little hotter at the pump and it’s just because of that, the intense amount of recovery that we’ve seen,” he said. “Demand is up.”

Meanwhile, the FBI on Monday said the ransomware attack had been carried out by a criminal gang known as DarkSide, which cultivates a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity.

In response to the attack, the Biden administration loosened regulations for the transport of petroleum products on highways as part of an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to avoid disruptions in the fuel supply.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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