November 7, 2012
Sandy Update For Wednesday 11-7-12
What is Going On? Q & A
Many of you are calling/emailing without a reply
Follow These Instructions
Message to Lukoil Dealers including Pennsylvania
Reminder on Gouging
Mandatory Emergency Generator Legislation
Honestly I do not know where to begin. First let me acknowledge all of your calls and emails. I am not kidding, but it is impossible to answer the volume of calls and emails that are coming in to me and the NJGCA staff. At any given time I have 30-40 calls waiting o be answered while I am on the phone with someone else. I am prioritizing my calls and emails to communicate with a multitude of officials from Trenton and Washington. My priority is to solve the problems that you are all saddled with and it is simply impossible to respond to you individually.
But every message is basically the same from each of you, so if NJGCA members will check their email inbox every day, then I can the answers in these Wild Fire Alerts to everyone at the same time. I am having this message sent to the Exxon and Lukoil dealers who have never joined because of the serious nature of this disaster. Once this disaster is over you will no longer receive these Wild Fire Alerts sent to members only.
Here are some of the questions in the messages that I have received:
When will I get gas? I haven’t received a load in 8 days (Yes 8 days..can you believe it?)
When will I get more gas? I only received a partial load.
I have emailed email@example.com every day and I still have not received gas. Did they get my email? When will I get gas?
I have a lot of commercial accounts and they are angry. When will I get my gas?
I sell gas to many police and ambulance squads, how can I get moved to the front of the line?
I see other stations getting a delivery, why haven’t I received mine?
I have passed several of the racks and they have gas, why can’t my supplier get me gas?
I thought that the situation was getting better, when will this end? When will I get gas?
I have a hauler that can get me gas, but my supplier won’t give him permission to get me gas, why not? What can I do?
What is the price of the relief gas?
I have called and emailed about my electricity, when will my power be turned on?
Ok, grab a cup of coffee. First I want to answer these questions. Second I want to give you instructions that you simply must follow.
Let’s start with the answers:
I am aware that so many of you have not received gas deliveries. I am aware that you have emailed firstname.lastname@example.org and some have called the hotline. This not because your supplier doesn’t want to sell it to you. Just like you want to sell gas to your customers, your supplier wants to sell gas to you. The distribution terminals – and that includes branded refiners, and unbranded storage facilities, have enough gas to fill all of your tanks, your swimming pool, bath tubs, and even your toilet bowls. Barges are full, pipelines are operational but the gas is stuck there.
This is NOT the fault of your small distributor.
The distribution terminals (racks) and refineries with racks, in North Jersey have all been rendered shut because of either no electricity, or damage sustained from the storm surge. I believe that electricity is less of an issue than it was 5 days ago, so now I am suspecting that damage from the storm is playing more of a role than originally thought. The refiners and operators of the distribution terminals have been reluctant to verify any damage.
The result of the shut down North Jersey distribution network has caused your supplier to haul gas from South Jersey, and Philadelphia, and Delaware. Rather than a one way travel time to the usual North Jersey rack, they now travel for 2 hours one way. The bigger problem is that the South Jersey racks are so jammed that tanker trucks are waiting in line for 4-5 hours before filling up before taking the 2 hour trip back to your station. Get the picture? A tanker that did 3-4 loads a day is barely able to make one.
Why are some stations receiving gas and others are not? I don’t know. All of the suppliers are having the same difficulty.
Is the situation getting better? I have been dead wrong in my original thoughts about this. I had thought that once power was restored that we would see this difficulty ease two days ago. However, I am concerned that this may continue if there really is more damage to the distribution network than has been revealed. I am told that Shell will have both Newark and Seawarren up and running by the end of the week. Let’s see.
The BayWay refinery in Linden is still shut and no one seems to want to give an answer about why or when it will be back on line. It raises my suspicions that there is more damage than has been acknowledged.
Many of you have indicated that you have a hauler willing to get you a load but he can’t because he doesn’t have access to certain racks. Even I am learning more about this. Apparently the credentials that are required by each of the distribution terminals are different and the operators of the distribution terminals will not allow haulers to access their racks. I was hopeful that this was a barrier that Governor Christie could knock down, but apparently the rack operators are standing firm for security and liability reasons. I don’t think the Governor is willing to have the state assume any liability should a temporary driver/hauler be permitted to pick up your load.
Let me state that Governor Christie has been a true leader in this entire episode. Everyone in his administration that he has asked to solve this problem is working very hard to help you. I am grateful to the person he has asked to head this effort, Michele Brown of the NJ EDA, who has made an enormous effort to unclog this jam with gasoline deliveries.
Now let’s discuss the “Relief Gas” that I have been telling you about. For some reason the gas that has been set aside to be delivered to you is just trickling its way to your stations. I am very frustrated and I have spent my entire day today and yesterday trying to determine why this is a trickle when it should be a river.
I have been communicating with the Chief of Staff of the Defense Logistics Agency, which is the department of our military responsible for getting the “relief gas” delivered. The DLA also has a contract with Caterpillar to supply big generators to gas stations without power. Somehow this is also a very slow process.
I have determined that this is all a matter of the many government agencies involved not being able to have the left hand communicating with the right hand. I may be wrong, but I will be on a conference call at 8AM tomorrow morning with these folks who I expect will promise that this will all be tied together.
I will also be on a 10AM conference call, as I have been every morning since the storm hit, with officials from the Governor’s office, NJ Homeland Security, NJ State Police, FEMA, National Guard, and folks stationed at the Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (ROIC) in Trenton (Ewing).
The coordination effort is massive. Yes I am frustrated for you, but I can’t deny that a lot of folks are dedicating themselves to getting the people of NJ thru this disaster. I wasn’t kidding the other day when I said there are folks that haven’t had a shower or a change of clothes in a week. Also understand that these folks are helping fellow New Jerseans who have much bigger problems than not having gas. I pray that each of you reading this has electricity and heat, because it is getting cold. You can’t imagine the number of people without even a dry pair of socks or a towel to take a shower at one of the shelters.
I must reiterate that the “relief gas” if delivered, is NOT FREE. You will be invoiced for the gas at a later date. I have been unable to get definite answers regarding what the price will be, but I feel comfortable advising you that it will be similar to the price you would have paid to your supplier had you purchased it from them. It is your job to check the daily price from your supplier and record it.
I do not have answers about electricity. I continue to have dialogue several times a day with PSE&G that include reports of the stations that have been turned on. It seems some of you are in very hard to restore areas and PSE&G is frustrated too. I am hoping that my conference call tomorrow will loosen the strings on the FEMA emergency generators.
Ok here are some instructions:
Honestly I do not mind if you call here 20 times a day. However, please don’t expect a prompt return call or even any call at all. When you do call to leave a message, please simply identify the nature of your call or a specific question. I will try to answer it in the following day’s Wild Fire Alert.
If you have a suggestion…I am all ears!
It is also ok if you send emails every day to email@example.com -- JUST CC ME firstname.lastname@example.org with every email. It is important that the folks on the other end continue to be updated and aware of your needs. If you do receive gas, then please email them to say “Thank you”. Do not expect a reply from me as the volume is too great for me to handle. I will at some point see them and I will include an answer in my daily Wild Fire Alert if appropriate.
Please in every email, write your name, station name, address (of each location you are reporting) and as much phone contact info as possible.
It is ok to forward this email to others who do not receive it. Right now it is important that we all pull together. Many dealers still do not have electricity or internet. They can go to the NJGCA web site www.njgca.org and all of these Wild Fire Alerts will be listed so that they can see every bit of info that is needed.
For those of you who continue to inquire about filling your tank with product from another supplier…DO IT! I have repeated that Governor Christie signed Executive Order 110 that allows you to do this until November 14. This is especially helpful because some suppliers have outright come out and said they can’t or won’t get any deliveries to their dealers.
In the 1979 gas shortage when Exxon could not get me all the gas I needed, I filled my tanks with gas from anyone that I could get it. I organized about 50 other dealers in NJ and even NY and Connecticut to do the same. We simply labeled our pumps properly explaining to customers that the product they were buying was not Exxon. They were happy just to get the gas. Yes Exxon was twisted, and yes they made all kinds of threats. Tough! They weren’t living up to their end of the contract…..oh…and I never had the benefit of a gubernatorial executive order like you do.
If your supplier can’t or won’t get you gas, then I suggest you get the gas from any source possible.
I understand that many of my Lukoil friends in Pennsylvania are in that situation. If I get the chance to discuss this with your leaders, then I will. There is no reason for you to not sell gas because your supplier can’t get you gas!
One final thought. I don’t think I need to remind you about the anti-gouging laws. I have spoken about it a few times and frankly I feel confident that NJGCA members will abide by the laws and won’t take advantage of consumers. BUT…just in case… I want to state again on the record that NJGCA and I have a zero tolerance policy regarding this kind of activity. I have already, and will do so again, turn dishonest and unscrupulous dealers in to the authorities at Consumer Affairs and Weights and Measures. I simply will not allow a bad apple to give a black eye to others who operate honestly.
Ok...this is the final thought…no kidding….I am sure many of you have been hearing about the rush by legislators to introduce legislation that will require you to install emergency generators at your location. One of the sponsors of such legislation called me this afternoon to discuss it. Assemblyman Ralph Caputo has promised that we will discuss every option and he wants to understand all of the pros and cons before he moves forward with his bill. Assemblyman Caputo is a gentleman and I take him at his word. He understands that our attention is focused solely on fixing the crisis that you are in at the moment. We will discuss it further later on. Don’t panic.
I’m outa here. I haven’t even mentioned the election results, but I do hope you all voted.
NJGCA Executive Director
If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please contact NJGCA at our Headquarters at 973-376-0066 or email us at email@example.com