Gas prices could go up in Kentucky if pipeline situation isn’t fixed soon

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Will the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline mean higher gas prices for Kentuckians? (WDKY)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – The cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline is not directly impacting Kentucky, but experts say that could change if the problem is not fixed soon.

On Friday, all Colonial Pipeline operations were shut down in response to a ransomware attack. The FBI confirmed that a cybercriminal gang called DarkSide is behind the attack.

Experts say hackers are targeting companies nationwide demanding payment to fix data breaches.

“Hospitals, services, and utilities where they know they have money and if something gets compromised they don’t have a lot of time to fix it, so they’re going to probably pay,” said George Insko, director of cybersecurity at the University of Kentucky.

Colonial Pipeline transports fuel through a pipeline system spanning more than 5,500 miles along the east coast, running through states like Tennessee, Georgia and all the way up to Delaware.

“We can expect that those states in that immediate region, they may see some immediate jumps in their prices at the pump, maybe seven to twelve cents,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, AAA Bluegrass. “We’re not expecting that to happen here.”

Bob Riley, a co-owner of Riley Oil Company, says if the shutdown continues, it could have a ripple effect on gas companies.

“I pull a lot of product from Tennessee, I can’t get anything today,” Riley said. “If it goes into next week, you’re going to see retailers going out of fuel because nobody has that much product in the ground at any time.”

Weaver Hawkins says that could happen in Kentucky if Colonial pipelines remain shut down. She says the higher gas prices we’re seeing are due to more people traveling as COVID-19 restrictions lift.

“We went up 12 cents over the past week but that’s more of what we’ve been seeing with that greater demand, more people getting out and starting to travel,” Weaver Hawkins said.

AAA experts say people do not need to go out and buy extra fuel. They say there is not a gasoline shortage. They also warn of the dangers of storing fuel in your vehicle.

Experts say it’s always a good idea to conserve your fuel and planning your trips in advance.

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