Where the Heck is all of the Gas?

NYC's fuel shortage explained

Almost two weeks after Hurricane Sandy rocked the Eastern seaboard, still only one-third of New York City’s gas stations have re-opened-- a cause of great ire and frustration for millions of New York City motorists.

And according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the gas shortage could last for a few more weeks.

So where the heck is all the gas?

Industry officials first blamed the fuel shortage on the gas stations themselves, many of which lost power behind the storm. However, power at the majority of these stations resumed quickly-- actually in a matter of a few days.

Then, the shortage was blamed on a slowdown in fuel deliveries from neighboring Connecticut and New Jersey due to closed tunnels and bridges. But, by Monday, the majority of New York City's bridges and tunnels had re-opened.

Still and yet, the gas shortage and long gas lines persist around the city. In fact, the situation has grown dire enough to compel Bloomberg on Thursday to announce that New York City will begin rationing its fuel reserves through an odd-even license plate system for gasoline purchases. 

So, again, what’s the problem? Where is the fuel?

Well, according to gas industry officials, the problem is multi-layered, with the greatest challenge being repairing the badly damaged gas supply terminals in New Jersey and other states affected by the storm. A large number of the supply terminals are either shuttered or operating at reduced capacity, reported the Star Tribune.

Also, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, the densely populated New York-New Jersey area has fewer stations per capita than any other major metropolitan area, making the shortage an even bigger problem.

However, according to Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, the hurricane is not to blame entirely for the gas shortages across the city. Laskoski told CFO.com that a shortage of refineries on the East Coast also is a contributing factor.

In fact, even before Hurricane Sandy, gasoline supply was tight in the Northeast, he said, with New York refineries operating at only 81 percent of capacity.

Following Hurricane Sandy, the Hess refineries at five New Jersey terminals, for example, were flooded and lost power. Although two of the terminals resumed operations on Wednesday, the company’s Bayonne and Newark terminals remained closed with no timeline for reopening.

And to complicate matters even more, added Laskoski, although the East Coast uses a good portion of the gasoline produced in this country, most of the nation’s oil refineries are on the Gulf Coast.

“The problem we see in the Northeast emphasizes the importance of having more refining capacity in other parts of the country besides the Gulf Coast,” which is extremely vulnerable to hurricanes, he said.

KG November 11, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Shame on NYC Mayor Bloomberg for this disaster and hardships on its residents whom have peril through devastation and need their vehicles to get them where they need to be in helping family, friends and others that have lost homes, lives and other possessions, jobs, etc. Bloomberg paid his way into another term and is truly hurting, not helping NY...Gas rationing, WHY???? NY should not be the state that has this...Then NY Taxpayers are going to be made to pay for the inept workmanship of all utilities and other items Bloomberg deems fit for the politicians pockets...Gas rationing...and when you get up to the pump you're told that you can only get high test premium or diesel, not regular, and price gouging is an understatement! I do commend Governor Cuomo and have empathy for him, as the Mayors' of NYC & NYS are handing him road blocks. Bloomberg wanted the NYC Marathon, not to deploy the National Guard for the hardest hit areas! Shame on our Mayor. Thank You Cuomo, and most admirable Governor Chris Christie who did an astronomical job in getting NJ up and running and was out on the ground with the devastated citizens. My brother who has been devastated, urged me many years ago to get out of NYC and come to NJ, my son too, said to get out, come Upstate, NY. Now why didn't I listen? I am disgraced at the CEO's of all utilities, and most assuredly at Mayor Bloomberg's inept and disregard for NY Citizens!
KG November 11, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Don't we have fuel companies right here in NYC, and all the five boroughs, what happened to the reserve fuel? How is it that the gas stations have run out of fuel in one week after the Hurricane, where did they put it, and why isn't gas given only to those that live in the neighborhood, not those that are greedily taking everyone's cars to fill up all over the boroughs, not allowing the residents of that neigbhorhood to receive gas? As for first responders, police, fire and all emergency responders and volunteers to disaster areas given their own reserve at their precincts, fire houses, hospitals and agencies? Unless they are using their own vehicles to respond and take others into the areas, it's not fair for them to get gas for their own personal vehicles and that of their families first on lines just for them and that there are devastated with tired, waiting customers on longer lines running out of fuel.
WALTER RICKMAN November 12, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Our senitor, mayor and governor all told us that 12 to 20 million gallons of gas are on the way, where are they?I went past 9 gas stations on Northern Blvd. and all are out of gas. Some one is lying out there.Remember Mayor Lindsey? After his handling of the snow storm he was gone. People we need to put in people with less talk and more action. Remember this mess when you vote next.
Mike Klubok November 12, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Before driving for gas go to http://gasbuddy.com/sandy This site brings up a map showing where gas is available and how long the wait is. The time you save looking for gas will make you glad you did.
Rachel November 13, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Couldn't agree more!


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