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Electrical Service Slowly Coming Back
Electrical Service Slowly Coming Back

Electrical service is slowly coming back in the regions affected by Superstorm Sandy and regional utility companies are reporting that it could be a week or more before the bulk of customers have power restored. While delays are understandable given the scope of the storm, the result is still bad news for the region as electricity is key to getting gasoline supplies where they are  needed. While lack of gasoline is not necessarily the key problem, without power, gas stations cannot pump the gas they may already have. “Power and flooding are the clear problems for restarting refineries, terminals, gas stations and pipelines,” said John Felmy, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute. “The industry is working hard to restart, but without grid power, we must rely on generators.” Many looking for gasoline will find it sparse while others simply cannot drive due to flooded roads and damage caused by Sandy. “On the demand side, folks who can drive appear to be out looking for fuel and encountering gas lines,” he said, but many stations do not have power. “Initial concerns with storms like this are supply disruptions, while the bullish concern is replaced with a bearish one due to lost demand,” said Brian Milne, energy editor and product manager at Telvent DTN. “That’s what we’re seeing now. Roadways are in terrible shape in New Jersey.” After all, “the biggest feature with this storm compared with other monster storms is that it hit the densely populated Northeast region,” Milne said. “On a grand scale, supply and demand may negate each other,” said Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, a trade group for an industry that sells 80% of the nation’s gasoline.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Friday announced they are waiving the Jones Act that will allow additional oil tankers from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports after Hurricane Sandy. "This waiver will remove a potential obstacle to bringing additional fuel to the storm-damaged region," Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, said in a statement. The act, which restricts tanker movements between U.S. ports to U.S. flagged vessels, has been waived until November 13. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is waiving requirements for registration and taxes to increase the speed of for ship and barge deliveries in New York Harbor which is a major fuel distribution hub in the Northeast. “Millions of gallons of gasoline are now in the harbor and going through the network,” Cuomo said in a message on Twitter. Much of New Jersey and New York City remained without power Friday, hampering efforts to reopen service stations. One of the main bottlenecks is in Linden, N.J., near the Phillips 66 (PSX), Bayway refinery and three terminals. Power has been restored to the facility, but the company has yet to say when it will reopen. Another blockage is in Bayonne, N.J., where a fuel oil spill and power outages continue to hamper distribution. Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG) which serves much of New Jersey reporte that while they have restored service to more than a million customers, at least 692,000 homes and businesses remain without power. Reports are that PBF Energy has begun trucking gasoline into the New York market to circumvent pipeline and terminal outages. The company’s 190,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Delaware City remained open throughout the storm. Spokesman John Pepper for Hess Corp. (HES) said the company learned a lesson from operations in Florida where hurricanes are more frequent, and stockpiled generators for its stations in the New York area ahead of the storm. Pepper said out of 186 Hess stations in the New York area, 177 are operating. The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday that fuel barge and tug traffic is now open in New York and New Jersey ports and waterways. “Other deep-draft vessels are allowed to enter the waterways on a case-by-case basis,” the Coast Guard said

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced, portable generators made by Champion Power Equipment, around 8,600 of them sold exclusively by Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) have been voluntarily recalled after several reports that they leaked fuel and caught fire. CPSC said that fuel can leak from the generators' carburetors, posing a fire hazard. There have been 11 reports of fuel leaks, eight reports of the generators catching fire and two reports of property damage. The recall affects two models of Champion Power Equipment portable generators, made in China, which have a black frame with black and yellow control panels, two wheels and a bar handle. The generators were sold at Costco stores nationwide for around $699 between December 2011 and July 2012. Consumers are advised to stop using the generators immediately and contact the manufacturer for a repair kit or return them to Costco for a refund. The recall comes as massive power outages remain on the East Coast in the wake of superstorm Sandy, leading many residents to rely on portable generators for electricity.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rescinded an order on Friday that closed the casinos in Atlantic City last weekend ahead of Hurricane Sandy, allowing the seaside resort's gambling halls to reopen. Christie also ended mandatory evacuation for residents. The director of the state's gambling regulator "has indicated that a complete review and assessment of the status and condition of each casino property, including the casino floors, its equipment, surveillance, security and gaming related computer systems have been completed," Christie said. D)

The Commerce Department reported Friday that factory orders rebounded 4.8% during September, almost completely reversing a drop in August. During the month of September, orders for non-durable goods rose 1.0%; shipments rose 0.8% and inventories increased 0.3%. Durable goods were revised to a 9.8% gain from 9.9% reported last week with the gain largely due to a rebound in bookings for commercial aircraft. Orders for non-aircraft, non-defense capital goods rose a slight 0.2% in September. Durable goods orders during August were revised slightly higher to a 5.1% fall from an initially reported 5.2% decline.

The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday that the U.S. economy gained a better-than-expected 171,000 jobs during October with more people hired in the prior two months than previously believed. Unemployment rate moved slightly higher to 7.9% from 7.8%. During September and August combined, employment gains were revised higher by 84,000. The number of new jobs created in September was revised higher to 148,000 from previous estimate of 114,000, while the number of jobs created during August was revised higher to 192,000 from 142,000. While the unemployment remains high, hiring has improved over the past four months. The biggest increase in hiring during October occurred in the professional services, health care, retail, leisure and hospitality. Average hourly wages, fell 1 cent to $23.58 while the average workweek remained unchanged for the fourth consecutive month, at 34.4 hours.


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Nov 2, 2012


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