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Sandy spawns gas shortage

A gas station on Rt. 25a in Kings

A gas station on Rt. 25a in Kings Park that ran out of gas the day after Sandy. (Oct. 30, 2012) Credit: Heather Walsh

Better not do any unnecessary driving for the next few days; superstorm Sandy has caused a temporary shortage of gasoline and left many stations without power for their pumps.

The storm also prompted the shutdown of two of six East Coast refineries in its path and forced reduced runs at four others, said the U.S. Department of Energy.

Northville Industries' Holtsville Terminal, one of two complexes that supply most Long Island gasoline stations, is operating on generator power but had run out of regular gasoline, marketing director Tom Magno said Tuesday. "Because of the storm everybody filled up and emptied us out," he said.

But, he said, new supplies were on two barges in Port Jefferson harbor -- awaiting Coast Guard clearance to be unloaded, which was expected to occur later Tuesday. That gasoline, about 100,000 barrels, was expected to be at the terminal by 8 p.m., available to be loaded on tanker trucks and delivered to gasoline stations.

Various industry sources, including president Kevin Beyer of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said gasoline terminals in Inwood either were shuttered or operating minimally. Efforts to contact operators there were unsuccessful.

Stephen Keshtgar, a major gasoline station operator on Long Island and in Queens, said 40 of his locations were without power Tuesday and only seven were operating. He said he had been unable to reach anyone at Inwood and had no idea when his stations would have power again. "My guess is this may go on for another week or 10 days," he said.

Tight supplies are likely to cause a temporary increase in prices, said Beyer. Regular gasoline Tuesday averaged $3.897 a gallon on Long Island, the AAA said, up about half a cent from the day before. "I can't stress it enough," said Beyer. "You really should think about whether you should take that trip."

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, based in Wall, N.J., said in an email, "The Northeastern terminal and logistics system is a bit of a mess, as one might expect, given the severity of the storm."

With schools closed Monday and Tuesday and millions of workers unable to get to work, demand is way off, said Kloza. "Very poor demand may counteract the logistical challenges," he said, adding that imports of gasoline from Europe should help prevent serious shortages.

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