Fuel oil dealers also caught in gas pinch

Lenny Spano of Hart Oil makes a home

Lenny Spano of Hart Oil makes a home heating oil delivery. (March 15, 2011) (Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan)

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Heating oil dealers say they're having the same difficulties as everyone else getting gasoline for their trucks to deliver oil and their vans to service and repair oil burners.

Kevin Rooney, chief executive of the Oil Heat Institute of Long Island, said most of the trucks and vans use gasoline -- with the rest powered by diesel -- and that long gas lines are making it difficult for dealers to refuel and service customers now that temperatures have dropped.

"We have requested a directive from New York State that would give priority status for access to gasoline supplies at local stations to fuel trucks delivering heating oil and diesel fuel as well as heating emergency service vans," Rooney said. Gov. Chris Christie has issued such a directive in New Jersey, he said.

The institute's request was made early in the week, and state energy officials bumped it up to the governor's office, Rooney said, but as of Thursday he had received no response.

A spokesman for the governor told a reporter Thursday he would check into it.

Rooney said there was no shortage of heating oil at terminals, but trucks often are waiting hours there to fill up, as well as waiting on lines at gas stations to fill their fuel tanks.

He said odd-even gas rationing set to begin this morning in Nassau and Suffolk (and New York City) should help. "It'll make the lines half as short as they are now," he said, "but it doesn't eliminate the problem entirely."

Heating oil averaged $4.271 a gallon at full-service dealers on Long Island on Monday, said the state Energy Research and Development Authority. That was up 3.8 cents from a week earlier and 22.3 cents higher than a year earlier.

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