Biden says fuel shortages should ease by this weekend as pipeline restarts

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By Steve Holland and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden said on Thursday that Colonial Pipeline should be reaching full operational capacity right now and he expects to see fuel normalcy this weekend, after an attack on the company triggered fuel shortages and panic buying in the southeastern United States.

Colonial Pipeline began to slowly restart the nation's largest fuel pipeline network on Wednesday after a ransomware attack shut the line.

"This morning Colonial reported that fuel is beginning to flow to (a) majority of the markets that they service and they should be reaching full operational capacity as we speak," Biden said, adding the impact will not be felt immediately at fuel stations and that it will take time for normalcy to return.

The administration has taken steps such as sending fuel to gas stations that will help fill the tanks of 5 million vehicles, the president said. On Wednesday, Biden also waived the Jones Act to accelerate fuel deliveries and said the administration will grant additional waivers if necessary.

Biden also urged customers to not get more gas than they need, saying he expects the situation to improve by this weekend and warned gas stations against price gouging.

"Nobody should be using this situation for financial gain," he said.

Biden also said he does not believe the Russian government was behind the attack but that those who were involved in the attack were based in Russia.

The president said the United States has been in touch with Moscow about the ransomware networks and "we are going to disrupt their ability to operate."

Biden said the United States is working to set an international standard that alerts governments about criminal activity. Biden hopes to discuss this with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, he added.

On Wednesday, Biden ordered the creation of an air accident-style cyber review board and the imposition of new software standards for government agencies.

He also urged the Senate to confirm key appointments such as Chris Inglis as the national cyber director.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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