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Experts: LI gasoline infrastructure OK so far

Gasoline tankers lined up at Northville Industries on

Gasoline tankers lined up at Northville Industries on Union Avenue in Holtsville. (Nov. 6, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Petroleum industry experts said Friday they don’t expect the current storm to disrupt the supply of gasoline to Long Island, as happened after superstorm Sandy.

The one caveat in their prediction is that if the blizzard of 2013 causes widespread power outages to the region’s infrastructure, including a gasoline pipeline from New Jersey to Long Island, the supply of gasoline could get crimped.

Panic buying Thursday and Friday by motorists preparing for the snowstorm caused some stations to run low or out of gasoline. But supplies coming into the Island are adequate at distribution terminals, and more gasoline is available for shipment to them as soon as the storm passes, said an official at Northville Industries, whose Holtsville terminal is a major distribution point for gasoline bound for stations on Long Island and in the city.

Sandy flooded and knocked out power to refineries, many distribution terminals and gasoline stations in the New York metropolitan area, resulting in long lines at stations still pumping and some panic buying. The situation was alleviated as supplies improved and New York and New Jersey instituted a gasoline rationing system based on car license plate numbers.

“I think this will be completely unlike Sandy and it will be fine,” said the Northville official, who declined to be named.

It’s all a matter of electricity, he said. ”Unless there is a loss of power in New Jersey, which would preclude us from loading barges, everything should be fine,” he said.

He said two barges, loaded with 80,000 barrels and 55,000 barrels, respectively, of gasoline, are ready to leave New Jersey terminals in New York Harbor for his dock in Port Jefferson once the storm passes. That gasoline represents a five or six day supply for his terminal, he said.

Industry executives say another major terminal, at Inwood, whose closure after Sandy exacerbated the Island’s supply shortage, is now fully operational again.

And they note that January and February are periods of seasonally low demand for gasoline, and that severe snowstorms tend to reduce demand further for days as slippery roads cause drivers to postpone unnecessary trips.

“There’s nothing like 10 inches of snow to really crimp gasoline demand,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J.

Weather forecasters are predicting as much as 14 inches for Long Island.

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