I-Team: Sandy Gas Crisis Could Last for Weeks

Sandy flooded critical equipment at the area's petroleum distribution facilities

Significant damage to northern New Jersey petroleum distribution facilities -- including the region’s largest refinery -- could keeps lines long at the gasoline pumps for weeks, NBC 4 New York's I-Team has learned. 

  • Scarce Gas Leads to Long Lines at the Pump

When Sandy came ashore last week, the Bayway Refinery in Linden, N.J. took on 12 feet of salt water, according to Rich Johnson, a spokesman for Phillips 66, the refinery’s parent company. Floodwaters damaged critical equipment, hampering the facility’s ability to pump gasoline into pipelines that are typically accessed by tanker trucks.

“We had a lot of electrical equipment that was damaged,” said Johnson.

The Bayway refinery is the most productive refinery in the tri-state region, processing about 238,000 barrels of crude oil per day. On the East Coast, Bayway is second only to a plant operated by Philadelphia Energy Solutions, which has a production capacity of 335,000 barrels a day.

As a result of the problems at Bayway and other storm-damaged petroleum terminals, many delivery trucks must fill up with wholesale gasoline at terminals in the Philadelphia area, severely delaying shipments to New York and New Jersey gas stations.

“The south Jersey terminals are so overwhelmed that they are finding there is a three-, four- and five-hour wait to pull the truck under the rack and fill and then another two-hour trip back,” said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline Convenience Store Automotive Association.

A statement on the Phillips 66 website predicted it would be two to three weeks before the refinery would be able to pump gasoline out to the endpoints along northern New Jersey pipelines. The flood waters associated with Sandy also caused the Bayway Refinery to spill more than 7,000 gallons of fuel, according to the company.

Phillips 66 did not elaborate on what percentage of the Bayway facility’s gasoline delivery capacity has been crippled.

Other gasoline distribution facilities also suffered mightily during the super storm.

The Hess Corporation has given no public timeframe for the repairs necessary to fix its damaged Port Reading facility in Woodbridge Township, N.J.

Also in Woodbridge Township, N.J., two diesel storage tanks owned by Motiva Enterprises were ruptured during the storm, releasing at least 330,000 gallons of fuel into the Arthur Kill, which separates New Jersey and Staten Island. It’s not clear when those damaged tanks will be repaired or what impact the damage has had on the region’s supply chain.

A spokesperson for NuStar Energy said that company’s petroleum storage and marine terminals in Linden, N.J. took on 10 feet of water, causing mechanical and electrical damage. The facility has only partial ability to pump gasoline into supply pipelines.

Political leaders have suggested the persistent lines at New York and New Jersey gas pumps are being caused in part by “panic buying” – the hoarding of gas by nervous motorists. However, according to the New Jersey Gasoline Convenience Store Automotive Association, the latest data on driver demand seems to show motorists are actually buying fewer gallons of gas.

“Overall demand is down 2.4 percent since the advent of Hurricane Sandy,” Risalvato said.

Contact Us