Fuel supply chain still disrupted on East Coast

on Friday, November 9, 2012

Fuel supply chain still disrupted on East Coast More than a week after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, the fuel supply chain is still strained, and gas stations are having a hard time meeting strong consumer demand. To keep up with the excessive need for fuel, many areas hit by the storm have imposed fuel rationing until a reliable increase in gasoline supply is found.

New York City, New Jersey and Nassau and Suffolk counties have restricted fuel fill-ups in response to the continued trouble procuring gasoline. Most areas restricting purchases have determined that vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers, letters or other characters will be allowed to fill up on odd number days, while those with plates ending in an even number or a zero will be permitted to fill their tanks on even days.

Issues caused by storm
The gasoline supply chain is still struggling to recover from the massive hurricane that hit the East Coast in late October, causing an estimated $50 billion in damage or economic losses, according to Reuters. While some expected fuel supply to return to normal levels once New York Harbor reopened in the days following the storm, that was not the case. Hurricane Sandy greatly damaged gasoline terminals that transfer fuel from tankers in the harbor to trucks for distribution. Additionally, flooding in low-lying areas has prevented more trucks from filling up at the few undamaged terminals and traveling in the hardest-hit areas.

Those who head out on a search for fuel on their fill-up dates are finding gasoline is harder to come by. Many gas stations are closed, due to the fact they have no product to sell, and consumers are waiting in long lines for a chance to fill their gas tanks.

This lack of gasoline has led to more people trying to profit off those struggling to get around after the storm. Some individuals are selling gas for astronomical prices, and officials are investigating gas station owners accused of raising costs illegally.

A supply problem
Some think this situation is reminiscent of the energy shortages seen in the 1970s, and are eager to get the supply chain moving again.

"This is worse than the oil crisis of the 1970s," said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops, according to Reuters. "Back then there was just a perceived shortage of supply in New York, when there was plenty of gasoline around. Now we're having real distribution problems."

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