* Long lines at gas stations as fuel stations run dry
* Those that are open may start running out within 24 hours
* First day of commuting for many without mass transit
By David Sheppard
NEW YORK Oct 31 More than half of all service
stations in the New York City area and New Jersey were shut on
Wednesday due to power outages and depleted fuel supplies,
frustrating attempts to restore normal life in the wake of
powerful storm Sandy, industry officials said.
Reports of long lines, dark stations and empty tanks
circulated across the region on Wednesday, with some station
owners unable to pump fuel due to a lack of power, while others
quickly ran their tanks dry because of intensified demand and
logistical problems in delivering fresh supplies.
The lack of working gas stations is likely to compound
travel problems in the region, with the New York subway system
expected to be out of action for several days and overland rail
and bus services severely disrupted.
In New York, gas stations on Long Island and Staten Island
also reported shortages, while lengthy lines were seen in
In New Jersey, where half of all businesses and homes were
still without power, more than 80 percent of filling stations
are unable to sell gasoline, said Sal Risalvato, head of the New
Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association (NJGCA).
"It's going to be an ugly few days until we can see both
power and supplies restored," he said by telephone.
The problem is not a lack of gasoline in the Northeast, but
widespread power outages and the logistical problems created by
the storm that are making it difficult to get fuel from
refineries and terminals to those who need it.
Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers
Association in Smithtown, New York, estimated that less than
half of all gas stations were able to sell fuel on Wednesday
"I have gas in the ground but no power. For many others
they're facing the opposite problem, with power but no gasoline.
For the few stations that are lucky enough to have both they've
got huge lines out front," Beyer said.
"With the kind of demand they're seeing they're likely to
run out of gasoline within the next 24 hours."
Beyer estimated it could take until the end of next week to
get all fuel stations operating again.
Four of the region's six oil refineries were back to full
production or increasing run rates on Wednesday, but the
second-largest - the Bayway plant in New Jersey - was still idle
after flooding damage that traders fear could delay its return
to full service. Key import terminals were also still shut.
Power is slowly being restored to the affected regions. The
Department of Energy said on Wednesday that 51 percent of homes
and businesses in New Jersey were still without power. That is
down, however, from around 65 percent on Tuesday afternoon.
(Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons in New York; Editing by