ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Economic experts say do not rush to the pump or prices will continue to rise in the Roanoke Valley. That’s the message coming from Gov. Ralph Northam, who declared a State of Emergency earlier Tuesday.
Roanoke Emergency Management released a statement on Instagram on Tuesday, May 11, saying, “Don’t panic! In light of what is going on with the Colonial Pipeline Ransomeware Attack, the City of Roanoke wants to remind you that if you do not need gasoline, please don’t rush out to fill your tank.”
Applied economics Professor Mike Ellerbrock from Virginia Tech explained this cyberattack on the Colonia Pipeline is something that politicians should have been prepared for, statewide, nationally, and internationally.
“We’ve known for years that these ransomware gangs possess the technical ability to infiltrate our cyber systems,” Ellerbrock said.
Petroleum officials disagree.
According to President and CEO of Virginia Petroleum & Convenience Marketers Association, Michael J. O’Connor, while they can prepare for natural disasters, there was no way to prepare for this.
O’Connor told WFXR News, “This was a cyber attack that happened Friday, there was no opportunity to make any of those alterations.”
Now, petroleum companies and gas stations are trying to play catch up. One effort they are making — which went into effect Monday, May 10 — is extending the hours that truckers can drive to transport petroleum.
The national average is currently, $2.99 according to AAA.
Virginia petroleum officials said that the main portion of the pipeline could be fixed as soon as Friday, May 14. However, the prices at the pump might not drop for a while.
“I think patience is a virtue,” said O’Connor. “I think some product is moving on the pipeline still, and hopefully with the regulatory waivers that have been put into place in the last couple of days, that we’ll be able to manage, and I think that’s kind of the operative word, manage til Friday.”