Will the Colonial Episode Spur a Pipeline Rethink?

Will the Colonial Episode Spur a Pipeline Rethink?
Check out this preview of oil and gas trends to watch this week.

(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the attributed sources and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rigzone or the author.)

Amid last week’s uproar surrounding the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and subsequent gasoline supply constraints in the Eastern United States, a photo circulated on social media that captured some degree of irony. Although the date, location, and source of the photo were unclear, the image showed an individual pumping gasoline into his or her SUV’s fuel tank. The SUV also bore a license plate from one of the states affected by the Colonial outage and a bumper sticker protesting, in all caps: “NO PIPELINE.”

On the one hand, this individual was obtaining the fuel to help him or her continue to easily perform tasks associated with modern life – such as driving to work or school, shopping for groceries, going to a medical appointment, visiting friends or family, going to the beach, etc. On the other, he or she was objecting to the vital infrastructure that helps to get that fuel to the gas station.

Might the recent gasoline supply constraints help to foster a greater public appreciation for pipelines? Some of Rigzone’s regular prognosticators consider that topic in this week’s installment of what to watch in the oil and gas markets. Read on for perspectives on timely market trends.

Mark Le Dain, vice president of strategy with the oil and gas data firm Validere: It will be interesting if the Colonial attack starts resulting in more favorable views towards pipelines in North America, at the very least to existing ones. A lot of statements recently by stakeholders confirming that they do view pipelines as the safest way to transport products and that their absence drives emissions through more inefficient modes of transport.

Jon Donnel, Managing Director, B. Riley Advisory Services: The shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline following a ransomware attack last week created fuel shortages through the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic states and drove gasoline prices higher ahead of the expected increase in demand for the summer driving season. The short-term turmoil highlighted the importance of existing pipeline infrastructure for the efficient distribution of hydrocarbons throughout the country. Pipeline projects have been under increasing scrutiny, most notably with an executive order cancelling the Keystone XL on the first day of the Biden administration and lawsuits to determine whether the Dakota Access and Enbridge Line 5 pipelines can continue to operate. It will be worth watching to see if the pendulum begins to swing back as the benefits of a smoothly running pipeline system were made clear and as the administration continues to tout infrastructure spending to kickstart the economy.  

Barani Krishnan, Senior Commodities Analyst, Investing.com: How demand will be shaping ahead of the weekend prior to the May 31 Memorial Day, which marks the start of the peak driving season in the United States.

Tom Seng, Director – School of Energy Economics, Policy and Commerce, University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business: With the Colonial Pipeline outage behind us, will we see other “copycat” hackers attempt to disrupt other energy infrastructure in the U.S.? India’s virus crisis is only getting worse, presently drawing concern over global oil demand. Meanwhile, low inventories of gasoline heading into summer will support higher wholesale and retail prices.

To contact the author, email mveazey@rigzone.com.


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