Post-Sandy: Fuel-supply issue soon to lessen

Nov. 5, 2012

Steps have been taken in the last few days that should start easing the supply-chain choke points that have caused diesel and gasoline to be in short supply or non-existent at many fueling stations in areas of the coastal Northeast hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Most notably, it has been reported that all terminals operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) are now open to truck traffic.

The expectation is that the trucks will move cargo out of facilities to make room for incoming vessels. At least several terminals will receive container ships.

According to PANYNJ, its Port Newark (NJ) Container Terminal and Global Terminal in Jersey City (NJ) “opened for business” this morning in continuance of “the restoration of the region’s maritime business following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.”

Both Port Newark and Global opened their gates for truckers at 7 am EST. And the first ship was expected to arrive at the Global Terminal at 7 pm EST Monday. The Port Newark Container Terminal is “expecting vessel traffic to resume Monday night.”

The Port Elizabeth (NJ) Terminal is also open. There, four cargo vessels were expected at the Maher Terminal and one at the APM Terminal. “Today’s shipments are expected to provide a wide array of products and materials to the area,” noted PANYNJ.

“Restoration of power continues to be a key requirement in returning the port to full operations,” stated PANYNJ. “All roadways are cleared for safe passage and PAPD will direct traffic for all port employees.”

According to the bi-state agency, the Port has faced “unprecedented challenges as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The storm surge caused nearly four feet of water throughout the port. Round the clock cleanup efforts have repaired damaged roadways, hundreds of displaced shipping containers, fixed rail lines, damaged electrical systems and other port cargo.”

PAPYNJ  added that cleanup of the port is continuing “around the clock to ensure that all port partners are brought back to full operation.”

Another key move that should positively impact recovery efforst in the region, reported today by, was the Dept. of Homeland Security’s issuance of a blanket waiver of the Jones Act.

Thanks to this waiver, foreign oil tankers that would normally be barred from doing so may now deliver fuel to Northeastern ports. This will let additional ships begin hauling petroleum up from the Gulf of Mexico.

The waiver will be in place through Nov.13 and the news report noted that the American Maritime Partnership said it won't oppose the waiver although the group said it is “not aware of any circumstances where American vessels have not been available to meet transportation needs."

It was reported that, with the waiver in place, several tankers are already in transit to the Northeast from the Gulf.

U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has also stepped in to help in “processing much needed fuel tankers as recovery efforts are underway throughout the New York City area,” the agency announced on Saturday.

“The processing of the fuel tankers through the Port of New York/Newark is another significant step forward in the recovery following Hurricane Sandy's devastation,” said Robert E. Perez, CBP’s Lead Field Coordinator for CBP in FEMA Region II.

According to CBP, “To facilitate the flow of gasoline into the New York area, CBP officers conducted immigration checks of tanker crews this morning, which allowed the crew to fill the gas tanks in the Port of New York/Newark seaport.”

CBP added that it is working closely with the Coast Guard and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as officials begin to lift waterway restrictions and open marine terminals to cargo vessels. Officers are on site and ready to process shipments as soon as cargo is off-loaded, the agency stated.

Asked about the seeming if localized shortages of motor fuel in the arease hardest hit by Sandy,  Denton Cinquegrana, editor at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), told FleetOwner that  “there is no supply issues-- there is plenty of gasoline and diesel. The problem is getting it to market. The distribution and logistics system is absolutely snarled right now.

“The impact is most likely going to be short-term,” he continued. “Once power starts to trickle back on, [fueling] stations will return, racks and terminals will get back online etc.”

Cinquegrana noted that fuel prices around the country are apparently not being affected by the Sandy catastrophe.

“Nationwide prices are falling,” he remarked. “And in the Northeast —in New Jersey and New York in particular— they are actually pretty flat” right now.”

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