U.S. expands Jones Act waiver to boost flows of fuel to Northeast

NEW YORK Sat Nov 3, 2012 7:40pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Saturday expanded a waiver on shipping requirements to allow foreign-flagged vessels to carry components used in the production of gasoline in a bid to boost supplies to the storm-stricken East Coast.

The temporary lifting of the Jones Act - which requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be flagged domestically - allows for foreign ships to carry petroleum products or other feedstocks, blending components, and additives needed for refiners to make completed fuels, the Department of Homeland Security said in a press announcement.

The waiver, aimed at supplying more fuel from the Gulf of Mexico refining hub, expanded on a waiver granted by the agency on Friday that allowed foreign tankers to send oil tankers to the East Coast.

The waiver issued on Saturday remains in effect through November 13, as is the waiver issued on Friday.

Hurricane Sandy severely disrupted pipeline flows to the Northeast, shuttered refineries and terminals, and briefly shut the New York Harbor - a vital hub for delivering fuel - causing shortfalls across the region.

Supplies have increased over the past two days as the harbor began receiving some fuel barges and pipelines restored operations, albeit at lower than normal rates. Still, two refineries that lost power during the storm remain shut, and all terminals in the harbor are not fully operational to receive fuel shipments.

(Reporting by Matthew Robinson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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