American-Flag Ships Ready To Transport Fuel to Northeast


May 2012


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With potential refinery closures in the Northeast looming as another unwelcome development in the already dire gas crisis, a major American maritime industry coalition has let the government know that plenty of U.S.-flag tonnage is ready to transport fuel to that part of the country from the Gulf of Mexico.


The American Maritime Partnership (AMP), composed of 400 member organizations including the SIU, contacted the Department of Energy in late March to reiterate that U.S. ships can handle the job of carrying gas, heating oil and other important petroleum-based products wherever needed. The coalition also explained that using American-flag ships won’t affect the price of gas at the pump.


According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), part of the Department of Energy, three oil refineries located in and serving the American Northeast are scheduled to close in the coming months. Consumers in that region, and particularly New England, may suffer from supply shortages and severe price hikes at a time when gas prices are already upwards of $4 per gallon in many places.


Since late 2011, two refineries in Pennsylvania have closed and another facility in the U.S. Virgin Islands shut its doors.


In its communications to the government, AMP explained in detail how the Jones Act fleet has the vessel capacity and the workforce to transport the needed amount of oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere to ports in the Northeast. Last February, the EIA released a report that erroneously stated Jones Act ships may be in “short supply” to move oil from the Gulf. This report was quickly discredited by AMP.


“In an error of omission, the EIA’s analysis understated the American tank vessel capacity by approximately 50 percent,” AMP said in a letter. “Once all American tank vessel capacity is considered, there is ample capacity to address changes in petroleum product markets as a result of Northeast refinery closures.” The letter noted that the group is working with EIA to update its information and correct its report.


Another rumor that apparently has been fed to the media by Jones Act opponents is that shipping American would increase the price of gas. This idea was also shot down by AMP, who pointed out that 90 percent of gas prices come from taxes and crude oil prices, neither of which have anything to do with shipping.


The bottom line, according to AMP and other allies of the U.S.-flag fleet, is that American workers aboard American ships are ready to do their part in the oil crisis. Claims to the contrary, and requests for Jones Act waivers and other anti-U.S. worker agendas, are not only untrue but will be detrimental to continued economic growth.



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