As cold snap looms, Sandy sets NY up for a new fuel crisis

Sat Nov 3, 2012 12:29pm GMT
 

(Repeats story published earlier Saturday)

By Joshua Schneyer and Edward McAllister

NEW YORK Nov 3 (Reuters) - U.S. Northeast residents lucky enough to have a roof after Hurricane Sandy struck now face a new problem: a heating oil shortage and widespread power outages mean some homes may go cold as the weather turns wintry.

A cold snap in the New York City area - with daily low temperatures set to drop into the upper 30s Fahrenheit (2-4 degrees Celsius) early next week - is raising concerns that residents of the storm-stricken areas of New York, New Jersey or Connecticut could be left without heat as they recover from one of the worst storms in U.S. history.

Some New York area heating oil distributors have already been forced to ration supplies. The fuel is used in nearly 5.8 million homes in the Northeast, the world's largest heating oil market. In some storm hit areas, distribution has nearly collapsed.

Heating oil is usually dispatched in fleets of tanker trucks to boiler rooms in thousands of residential buildings and businesses. But on Friday, supplies were dwindling at many distribution centers in New York City and parts of New Jersey.

In addition, nearly 3.5 million homes and business were without power on Friday along the East Coast. While that number will likely diminish by next week, those without power that use heating oil will have limited options to stave off the cold.

Government attempts to alleviate the shortage by releasing strategic reserves of heating oil are unlikely to provide much relief, given the scope of the problem facing distributors.

Concerns are compounded by forecasts for unseasonably cold weather. In New York City, temperatures are expected to dip to between 3 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit below average for early November, said Bradley Harvey, meteorologist at MDA Information Systems in Maryland.   Continued...

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