People are reflected on the side of a car as they wait in
line for petrol at a station at Union City in New Jersey.
A third day of "panic buying" of gasoline among
Sandy-struck New York area motorists prompted action from
authorities, who waived shipping regulations even as pipelines
and oil tankers resumed limited shipments.
The US government waived the Jones Act barring
foreign-flagged vessels from carrying fuel between US ports
in a bid to boost supplies from the Gulf Coast to the
Northeast. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would
temporarily lift tax and registration requirements on tankers
docking in the New York Harbour, which had just reopened to
While the waivers sent benchmark New York gasoline futures 2
percent lower, they will do little to address the biggest
obstacle to getting fuel to consumers: the power outages that
have shut nearly two-thirds of the service stations in the
New Jersey and New York City area and are still hindering
service at major oil terminals and refineries along the
Faced with the prospect of another day of hunting for fuel or
losing out on business, New York City cab driver Mohammad
Sultan parked his yellow taxi at a Hess station on Coney
Island Avenue, Brooklyn at midnight on Thu rsday so he could
be first in line when a rumoured fuel shipment arrived at 6
At 9am, with 180 vehicles behind him, the pumps were still
empty. Officials said the number of cabs on the road was down
24 percent from last week.
"Because of the gas problem, there are thousands of yellow
cabs sitting around wasting time and money," Sultan said.
There were some signs that the complex New York Harbor
network of storage tanks and pipelines was finally returning
to service after Sandy dealt it a direct hit, crippling the
ability to fuel the nation's most dense consumer population.
The region's biggest pipeline, Colonial, restarted much of
its northern line, and an oil tanker carrying 2 million
gallons of gasoline docked overnight in Newburgh, New York,
100km north of New York city. Other ships were finally
offloading cargoes in the harbor after being stuck at anchor
for the past week.
But those measures were cold comfort for residents stuck in
hours-long queues, often with no guarantee that supplies
would be available when they got to the front of the line --
or that enough power would be restored to get more stations
The situation is wearing on New Yorkers. Juliana Smith, a
full-time student, spent 2-1/2 hours in line to fill two
five-gallon containers on Friday, an hour more than on
"It's psychotic," she said. "People are angry. We have no
power. No heat. We need gas for the generator and our Ford
Explorer, which is a monster."
Prices at the pump have remained steady despite the
shortages, motorist group AAA said, averaging just below $4 a
gallon in New York City, 2 cents lower than last week.
However, on Long Island, where only a third of all stations
were working, average gasoline prices jumped 5 cents from a
But online, Craigslist users started offering gasoline at as
much as $15 a gallon to motorists and homeowners not wishing
to brave the lines.
There were signs the situation could improve in the coming
days as wholesale markets begin to work again.