Energy Transfer Says 'Cyber Attack' Shut Pipeline Data System

Stock SectorApril 2, 20185min6

A cyber attack hobbled the electronic communication system used by a major pipeline network, though the company said there was no effect on the flow of natural gas.

The electronic data interchange provided by third-party Energy Services Group LLC for Energy Transfer Partners LP’s pipeline system was attacked Monday and will be shut down until “further notice,” Energy Transfer said in a note to shippers. Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP also had an EDI outage, though it didn’t provide the cause. The EDI system conducts business through a computer-to-computer exchange of documents with customers.

The attack didn’t impact operations otherwise and no data was compromised, according to Vicki Granado, an Energy Transfer spokeswoman. “We are handling all scheduling in house during this time,” Granado said in an email.

The shutdown could affect a wide network of pipelines owned by Energy Transfer subsidiaries, including Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Company, Transwestern Pipeline Company LLC and Rover Pipeline LLC.

Though it’s not clear who was responsible for the attack, it comes after U.S. officials warned in March that Russian hackers are conducting a broad assault on the nation’s electric grid and other targets. Last month, Atlanta’s municipal government was hobbled for several days by a ransomware attack.

Energy Transfer, run by billionaire Kelcy Warren, isn’t the only pipeline company using EDI. Other operators with similar systems include Kinder Morgan Inc. and Tallgrass Energy Partners LP, according to their websites. Representatives for Kinder and Tallgrass said the companies’ systems weren’t affected.

The Panhandle natural gas pipeline network includes four large-diameter pipelines stretching from the Anadarko Basin of Texas and Oklahoma into several midwestern states. The Trunkline system, which extends from the Gulf Coast into the Southeast and Midwest, and the Sea Robin system in the Gulf of Mexico are also part of the Panhandle network.

Shares of Energy Transfer fell 1.1 percent to $16.04 at 3:24 p.m. in New York. The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Transwestern pipeline system connects gas supplies in the Rockies and the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico to customers in California, Arizona and Nevada. The Rover pipeline, also controlled by Energy Transfer, is designed to transport gas from West Virginia and Ohio to markets in the Midwest and Canada.

— With assistance by Naureen S Malik

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