Hurricane Sandy caused damage to ports that take in fuel tankers and flooded equipment that sends the gas through pipelines, resulting in gasoline shortages in the New York/New Jersey area.
The U.S. Energy Department said six refineries in the Northeast, that can process 1.17 million barrels a day, were down or operating at reduced levels because of Sandy, according to Businessweek. For example, Colonial Pipeline Co.’s 825,000-barrel-a-day pipe that sends fuel from North Carolina to Linden is expected to operate at a limited capacity Friday.
On Saturday, Gov. Chris Christie instituted odd-even gas days in certain N.J. counties to combat long lines and other chaos at the pumps. Last night, Christie announced that the state has set up a hotline for gas stations to self-report service problems.
“Right now, we know there is a problem with access to gas in many parts of our state as a result of impact of Hurricane Sandy, but we don’t have complete information on the nature of those issues or where they are occurring,” said Gov. Christie, according to a press release. “If a station isn’t getting gas to people, we need to know, so we can direct the right resources to where they are needed. This hotline will allow us to collect this critical information on gas station issues – whether it is a supply problem, a power outage, or an issue of access due to flooding or downed trees – and help speed up our recovery efforts, period.”
It is no surprise that customers are growing angrier over the fuel crisis.
In Montclair, gas station owner, Abhishek Soni, received gasoline on Wednesday, and he let families fill containers with fuel first so they could keep their generators running. "I wanted to make sure families were OK, because I have a kid,'' he said.
A USA Today report on visaliatimesdelta.com said Soni filled 1,700 containers and sold 8,000 gallons of gas over a nine-hour period. But Soni had to close before dawn on Thursday because the waiting crowd had grown unruly.
Unruly is one thing, but in New York, Fox News reported that 35-year old Queens man, Sean Bailey, tried to cut in line at a station and pulled a gun on a man who complained. Bailey was charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon and could see 15 years in jail with a conviction.
Earlier in the week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned vehicles having less than three passengers from entering much of Manhattan.
On Wednesday, the New Jersey Gasoline Convenience Automotive Association reported that more than 80 percent of New Jersey’s gas stations were not able to sell fuel. According to Fox Business, lines for the Brookdale service stations on both sides of the Garden State Parkway in Bloomfield stretched for a mile or longer in both directions.
The Argus Press reported that New York and New Jersey’s ports were beginning to accept tankers, but some fuel was being directed to Virginia. Federal rules about low-smog gasoline have been lifted, and fuel trucks are said to be on their way.