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Fuel imports, distribution in Puerto Rico starts to unclog
September 28, 2017 / 9:20 PM / in 2 months

Fuel imports, distribution in Puerto Rico starts to unclog

Sept 28 (Reuters) - Shipments of gasoline and diesel into Puerto Rico have resumed after Hurricane Maria, with ports restarting operations, though there were still long fuel lines around the island on Thursday, according to traders and Thomson Reuters tracking data.

Residents lined up for diesel for power generators and to fill cars with gasoline, while at least one tanker discharged at the port of San Juan as oil terminals reopened some facilities.

The territory still faces logistical hurdles to distribute food, fuel and water. Critics called for more resources and a single authority to oversee relief efforts. Most of the Caribbean island’s 3.4 million people still lacked electricity.

Gasoline stations have been unable to remain open for more than a few hours at a time, the U.S. Department of Defense said on Wednesday.

The medium-sized tanker Energy Patriot coming from Canada finished discharging refined products at San Juan on Thursday, according to Reuters data. The port has struggled to move supplies, due to a lack of personnel to empty containers from the port.

“Fuel distribution is slowly starting to flow. The most needed fuel right now is diesel. Importers are working to get supplies,” one trader said.

Three other vessels from the United States and the Caribbean have lined up to unload, with two more tankers en route from Europe, the data showed.

As of Wednesday, Puerto Rico’s ports of San Juan and Guayanilla lifted operational restrictions. The port of Arecibo reopened for daylight hours, the U.S. Department of Energy said.

Two other ports used for oil imports and to move fuel between domestic terminals - Yabucoa and Ponce - remained closed. Mayaguez reopened with restrictions on Thursday.

In Yabucoa, U.S. company Buckeye Partners had not yet reopened the marine terminal, but a truck terminal was distributing stored fuel, traders said.

Puma Energy, which runs three oil terminals in Puerto Rico, resumed operations at its 2.96-million-barrel Bayamon facility and was working to accelerate imports and fuel distribution across the island, including power plants and airlines, the sources added.

The companies did not respond to requests for comments.

U.S. President Donald Trump temporarily lifted restrictions on foreign shipping from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico to help get supplies to the island.

The military has delivered fuel to nine hospitals; a barge with 100 defense trucks carrying diesel and gasoline was expected to arrive by Monday. (Additional reporting by Dave Graham in San Juan; Editing by David Gregorio)

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