Several refined product terminals in Florida and states to its north have been forced to close due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Idalia. This has caused significant disruptions in fuel supply and demand throughout the region.
Terminal Closures Ahead of Hurricane Idalia
Prior to Hurricane Idalia making landfall at 7:45 a.m. ET on the coast of the Florida Big Bend as a Category 3 storm, multiple fuel terminals in Jacksonville and Tampa were preemptively closed for safety reasons.
One notable incident reported involved Motiva Enterprises' Tampa terminal, which was submerged under water as Idalia unleashed powerful storm surges along a wide stretch of Florida's west coast. Unfortunately, Motiva could not be reached for comment regarding the situation.
Reopenings and Restarts Amidst Ongoing Storm Activity
Despite the ongoing threat posed by Idalia as it continues its path towards coastal Georgia and the Carolinas, some Florida terminals have managed to reopen and resume operations. Conversely, coastal terminals in the aforementioned states have preemptively halted their operations in anticipation of the approaching storm.
By midday Wednesday, Apex Oil's terminal in Jacksonville and Murphy USA's terminal in Tampa Bay reported successful restarts of their operations. Kinder Morgan Inc., a major player in the industry, has also released a statement confirming the resumption of normal operations at all its Tampa facilities, including the Tampa refined products terminal and Central Florida Pipeline system. The company expressed confidence in the protections it has implemented for its Products (SE) Pipe Line system but remains cautiously optimistic about potential impact.
Limited Damage and Planned Terminal Shut Downs
Kinder Morgan provided updates on the status of its various terminals. Port Manatee, Port Sutton, and Tampaplex terminals were fortunate enough to sustain only minimal damage and are expected to reopen on Thursday. However, the company plans to temporarily shut its terminals in Charleston, S.C., later on Wednesday, to conduct necessary inspections. They anticipate resuming service on Thursday following the completion of the inspections.
Supply Issues Impacted Terminals
Several Florida terminals have reported issues with supply, including allocation and loading delays. Some terminals even faced the problem of running out of products well in advance of Hurricane Idalia's arrival.
Overall, the impact of Hurricane Idalia on fuel terminals in Florida and neighboring states has been significant. As the storm progresses, it will be imperative for these facilities to swiftly recover and resume operations to alleviate the supply disruptions experienced by the region.
Fuel Supplier Requests 72-Hour Notice for Deliveries in Storm-Impacted Areas
Fuel supplier Mansfield Energy has issued a notice to its customers, urging them to provide a 72-hour notice for new fuel deliveries in areas affected by the storm. Specifically, this request applies to Florida, southern Georgia (south of Macon), and the coastal Carolinas. According to the company, fuel markets in these regions are currently "effectively closed."
Port Closures and Restrictions
As reported by the Department of Energy (DOE), several ports in Florida and Georgia have been closed due to the storm. The ports of Jacksonville, Canaveral, Tampa, Manatee, Panama City, and Savannah, GA are among those that were closed on Wednesday. Additionally, the ports of Pensacola, FL, and Charleston, SC are operating under restricted operations. Earlier, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of Charleston, SC ordered the closure of the port at noon ET.
Power Outages in Florida
As of 7:30 a.m., the DOE has reported approximately 126,000 customers without electricity in Florida.
State of Emergency Declarations
Governors from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky have issued state of emergency orders earlier this week. Among other provisions, these orders exempt fuel tanker truck drivers from hours-of-service limits. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also waived federal regulations to allow Florida fuel companies to sell gasoline with a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of 11.5lb (12.5lb RVP if the gasoline contains between 9% and 15% ethanol) until September 15.
Fuel Supply Challenges in Florida
The state of Florida does not have any refineries or interstate refined product pipelines. As a result, gasoline in most parts of the state is delivered through waterborne shipments from refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast, supplemented by imports from abroad.