Vermont should be well insulated from the fuel shortages that have disrupted the lives of millions in New York and New Jersey days after Hurricane Sandy.
Although Vermont pulls some of its gasoline and heating oil supplies from refineries and terminals in the Greater New York area hit by widespread power outages, the state has several other sources for its fuel stocks, so there is little likelihood of any shortage, spokesmen for two statewide fuel associations said Friday.
“The system is sort of resilient enough to sort of bypass the problems that they’re having down there,” said Joseph Choquette, Vermont spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute.
A portion of the state’s petroleum supplies is routed from terminals in New Jersey, including the 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline, then making its way up the Hudson Riverto the Port of Albany.
Choquette said adequate gasoline supplies shouldn’t be a problem, but in the event of a shortage or bottleneck in refining or distribution, the state could obtain gasoline from Montreal, Massachusetts or New Hampshire.
“There are some problems out there and we’re keeping an eye on that, but it wouldn’t be right to say there’s reason for us to be concerned that something is imminent,” Choquette said.
Matt Cota, executive director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, said for those coping with long gasoline lines down country the problem isn’t one of supply.
“The irony of this whole thing is that the terminals in New Jersey and New York and the gasoline stations are not operable because of the lack of electricity,” Cota said.
He said Vermont already has several sources for its home heating oil including Albany, Montreal, Boston, Springfield, Mass., and Portsmouth, N.H.
Cota said to help speed up supplies President Barack Obama on Friday temporarily suspended the Jones Act. He said the nearly 100-year-old law prevents foreign ships from picking up cargo at one U.S. port and delivering it to another U.S. port. The law was designed to protect U.S. shipping interests.
Since most ships today fly a foreign flag, Cota said waiving the law will help speed up petroleum supplies from the Gulf Coast to the affected areas and along the East Coast. He said that could turn out to be a significant pre-emptive measure, if the power outage and supply problems in the metropolitan New York area were to persist.
Cota said for now the state has a plentiful supply of heating oil and propane with several options.
“Vermont is unique in that we’re in the middle between this sort of triangle, Montreal, New York, Boston triangle of fuel supplies,” he said. “If one leg of that stool is not working, we can be well supplied … so we’re in good shape in Vermont.”
Cota added that despite long lines at gas stations in the metropolitan New York area, spot and future gasoline prices fell Friday.
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