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Roundtable on the Resilience of the Liquid Fuel Supply Chain in the New York Area

Past Event

May 9, 2014

5:00 am - 11:00 am

On May 9, Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy hosted the first roundtable on the resilience of the Tri-state region’s liquid fuel supply chain. The forum brought together top federal, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and New York City energy and resilience officials with high-level representatives from the energy industry, including electric utilities, refineries, terminals, pipelines and retail outlets, to discuss the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, problems in the fuel chain network and recovery efforts revealed by the disaster, and the potential for strengthening the system. The roundtable responded to a request from the City of New York and interest from other stakeholders.

The forum, held under Chatham House Rule, provided an opportunity for these stakeholders to speak about the strains and limitations on the regional fuel network, as well as actions needed for improvements. The roundtable also gave participants an opportunity to develop working relationships, build communications networks and share best practices. Since the turn of the century, the New York metropolitan area’s energy network has faced large-scale disruptions on multiple occasions. In addition to Superstorm Sandy, which caused by far the biggest and longest lasting interruption to the liquid fuel supply chain, the region faced the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and the 2003 blackout. Participants noted that conversations like these can also provide an opportunity for an exchange of views on pending proposals such as those by New York State and the U.S. Department of Energy for government refined product emergency reserves, as well as studies like the National Petroleum Council’s strategic examination of Natural Gas and Oil Infrastructure Resilience and the federal government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review. This review will focus initially on infrastructure for transmitting, storing, and delivering energy.

Sandy exposed weaknesses throughout the entire supply chain and in the response plan to fuel emergencies. The closed waterways, wrecked docks, and swamped infrastructure coalesced into one of the biggest fuel crises in the region’s history. Participants noted, however, there were successful efforts and decisions that helped alleviate pressure during the crisis, such as the quick turnaround on waivers for the Jones Act and fuel standards and the innovative efforts of many companies to return services to customers.

Download the summary of the roundtable (PDF)