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May 13, 2021, 1:17 p.m. EDT

Biden predicts return to normalcy in ‘next couple of days’ after gasoline shortages due to Colonial Pipeline attack

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By Victor Reklaitis

President Joe Biden on Thursday predicted a return to normalcy within days for parts of the southeastern U.S. facing gasoline shortages after the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, as he reiterated his administration’s calls for Americans not to hoard gas or price gouge.

“We expect things to return to normal over the next couple of days,” Biden said in a brief speech from the White House.

“I will be monitoring Colonial’s progress, and the federal government support every step of the way, so stay strong. Help is on the way. We’re gonna get through this as we always do as Americans — we’re gonna do it together. It’s going to be quick.”

Biden’s comments come after Colonial Pipeline late Wednesday said its key fuel system had started to resume operations on the U.S. East Coast following a shutdown in response to the ransomware attack. Gasoline shortages spread across the Southeast in the wake of the shutdown.

His remarks also follow news Thursday that Colonial Pipeline paid Eastern European hackers nearly $5 million in an untraceable cryptocurrency last week in response to the ransomware attack. That’s according to a  Bloomberg report citing people familiar with the transaction. A Colonial spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, and Biden also declined to comment on it.

See: Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in ransom after cyberattack: report  

In his remarks Thursday, Biden highlighted steps that his administration has taken to address the pipeline shutdown, calling it a “whole-of-government response to get more fuel more quickly to where it’s needed and to limit the pain being felt by American customers.”

Related: What is the Jones Act? And why might waiving it help ease East Coast gas ‘supply crunch’?

In addition, the president said the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not believe the Russian government was involved in the attack, but there is strong reason to believe that the criminals behind the attack were from Russia.

“We have been in direct communications with Moscow about the imperative for responsible countries to take decisive action against these ransomware networks,” Biden said.

With the fuel artery back in business, oil futures fell sharply Thursday and were on track to snap a four-day winning streak.

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