Frustrated motorists on the East Coast have been flocking to area gas stations and waiting on hours-long lines just to fill up their tanks after Hurricane Sandy made gas a precious commodity.
Half of the gas stations in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area are lacking the electricity to run their pumps and the other half have either completely run out of gas or are nearing the end of their supplies on hand, according to several news reports.
The disruption has left many drivers, especially those who depend on cars for their livelihood, wondering when will things get back to normal.
With access still limited in some areas, it remains unclear when gas will be able to be delivered to certain local stations, in addition to restoring power and repairing flood-damaged stores.
To make things worse, the long lines and gas shortage may not end for another week, some experts told CNBC.
The main problem isn't lack of gasoline, but the way is which it can be distributed, with New Jersey suffering the most.
Nearly 75 percent of New Jersey gas stations are closed, Sal Risalvato, executive director of the N.J. Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association, told CNBC.
“What I’m seeing is there’s a combination of problems. Power is at the root of it. That means gasoline that is already in inventory, already refined in those big tanks you see along the side of the turnpike, they can‘t get that gasoline into the delivery trucks without power,” said Risalvato.
“We are focused on the major refineries area in Woodbridge, Linden, Elizabeth part of New Jersey. We expect to have the substations back by late tomorrow/Saturday, so what that means is power will be restored to that region,” said PSE&G CEO Ralph Izzo on “Fast Money Half-Time Report.”
“Now if there’s a specific set of circumstances to a particular customer in that region that will push it out further, but that region will be able to receive power Saturday,” he said.
He added that certain locations and institutions are considered top priority, such as hospitals and refineries.
Izzo said that most residential customers, as well as gas stations, can expect power over the next several days.
“I feel like Linden is still quite the mess,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “There’s really no amount of catch up that the system can do with all of the Jersey terminals shut down.”
Yet, some progress is being made in the storm recovery effort.
The Colonial Pipeline that brings gasoline from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast should begin operating, although only part-time, on Friday. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard told CNBC on Thursday that it would open the Port of New York and New Jersey to get gasoline and fuel to the area on a restricted basis.
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