* Regional gasoline demand down only 4 pct in latest week
* Motorists filled before storm, bought generator fuel after
* Only 9 of 57 terminals in Sandy's path still shut on Tues
By Selam Gebrekidan
NEW YORK, Nov 6 Superstorm Sandy had a
relatively small impact on regional gasoline demand, despite
wreaking havoc on the New York fuel hub that will persist for
weeks, with a major refinery shut and long lines persisting at
gas stations on Tuesday.
Weekly data from MasterCard Inc showed gasoline sales
in the central Atlantic region dipped by less than 4 percent
last week. Last week, the region accounted for nearly 13 percent
of all gasoline sales in the United States.
MasterCard, which estimates gasoline demand based on credit
card, cash and other payments at service stations, said
consumers filled up on the weekend before the storm and bought
fuel to power portable generators after. This tempered the
year-over-year drop in demand during the days when motorists
stayed off the road.
Gasoline sales on Saturday and Sunday rose to 70 million to
80 million barrels, twice as much as other weekends, according
to John Gamel, gasoline analyst with MasterCard.
"That's why this was not as bad as (Hurricane) Katrina but
we still saw year-over-year declines," Gamel said, referring to
the 2005 hurricane that devastated the Gulf Coast and reduced
weekly U.S. demand by nearly 12 percent from 2004 levels right
after the storm.
Last year's Halloween snow storm, which briefly stopped
traffic in the northeast, skewed the yearly comparisons as well.
The storm-ravaged region faces a powerful Nor'easter
forecast to arrive as early as Wednesday bringing heavy winds,
rain and snow to New Jersey and New York.
Demand in the central Atlantic region fell more than it did
in the rest of the country. Average demand nationwide dropped
2.4 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.
Sandy flooded the New York region's second-largest refinery,
cut power to dozens of terminals in New York and New Jersey and
choked the New York Harbor with debris.
A week later, some infrastructure was still struggling to
come back. Phillips 66 has said its flooded 238,000
barrels-per-day Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey will not
return to service for two to three weeks.
But much the area's energy network was recovering. On
Tuesday, just nine of the 57 terminals in Sandy's path were
shut, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Seven of these
were in New Jersey, including Motiva Enterprise's
5-million-barrel Sewaren tank farm, where cleanup efforts were
nearly complete after two tankers spilled 378,000 gallons of
diesel into the Arthur Kill waterway.
Colonial Pipeline resumed service to eight of the more than
20 customer terminals linked to its Linden, New Jersey terminal,
the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
Still, gasoline lines got longer in the Queens, Brooklyn and
Staten Island boroughs of New York City on Tuesday. Some small
pumping stations in the city and across the Hudson in Union city
and Jersey city were still closed. About 24 percent of gas
stations in the New York metropolitan area did not have
gasoline, with levels unchanged from Monday, the energy
Travel Group AAA estimated about a third of gasoline
stations were still without fuel in New Jersey.
Yet, relief was on the way. The U.S. Coast Guard said it
expected five tankers to bring gasoline shipments to the New
York Harbor between Tuesday and Sunday.
Energy companies were racing to bring tankers from the U.S.
Gulf Coast to the New York Harbor less than a week after the
federal government issued a waiver to a law that keeps foreign
tankers from transporting fuels between ports. BP was early to
start, after it reportedly chartered two foreign ships
With oil traders standing to make $2 million in profits from
each extra tanker, the region could soon have more gasoline than