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Low fuel inventories cause special concern in US Northeast

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) Diesel and heating oil supplies in the Northeast tend to be more than 50% below the recent average, raising concerns an extreme weather event might lead to supply disruptions, federal officials said.

Fuel supplies are less than normal in the united states for a number of reasons, like the war in Ukraine. But its the worst in the Northeast.

Diesel fuel and heating oil, which comprise the distillate category, are 63% below the five-year average in New England and 58% below exactly the same average from Maryland to NY, in accordance with a survey by the Department of Energy. Gasoline inventories aren’t as bad, but remain at their lowest levels in nearly ten years across the entire East Coast, the agency said.

The Northeast is heavily influenced by heating oil to help keep homes warm in the wintertime, while other regions rely more on gas and electricity. Also, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has projected a dynamic hurricane season, and a robust weather event might lead to disruptions, since most fuel consumed from the center Atlantic states to Maine originates from Gulf Coast refineries, energy officials say.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is convening a gathering of New England governors and their energy directors after Labor Day to go over the situation. For the time being, she’s urged governors in a letter to take whatever steps they are able to to shore up fuel supplies in coming weeks to avoid any problems.

THE POWER Department also sent letters to seven major oil companies, asking them to carry onto their stocks to greatly help offset low stocks.

The federal agency has been monitoring the issue and is wanting to be proactive with outreach. But theres little incentive for buyers to fill up on high-priced fuel for storage since it is anticipated that prices will drop, said Michael Ferrante, of the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association.

The fuel inventory concerns come against a backdrop of Russians invasion of Ukraine further shaking up a power supply chain that has been seeking to meet up with growing demand. The war is causing worries concerning the adequacy of energy supplies all over the world.

In New England, the immediate concern in the late summer is diesel fuel, however the winter heating season looms not far behind.

Heating oil disruptions would hit the spot hard as the percentage of homes that depend on it range between 24% in Massachusetts to a lot more than 60% in Maine, probably the most heavily dependent states.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has urged the power Department to expedite its ending up in governors to speak about maintaining a well balanced heating oil supply.

Maine is distinctly susceptible to the increased prices and volatility the global fossil fuel market is currently experiencing because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, said Anthony Ronzio, a spokesperson for the Mills administration.

Regardless of the concern, wholesale suppliers and retailers will work well together, and Ferrante said he anticipates inventories increase in September and October, easing the immediate concerns.

He said he could be optimistic that you will see an ample way to obtain heating oil.

Suppliers and retail delivery companies are worried about prices and inventory, but theres no alarm bell being rung at the moment, he said. I dont visit a crisis at this time.

THE POWER Department created a heating oil reserve that holds 1 million barrels in terminals in the Northeast. Those could possibly be tapped within an emergency.

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Follow David Sharp on Twitter @David_Sharp_AP

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