Move It on Over—Ports and Pipelines Delivering East Coast Refined Products

Most of the gasoline, diesel, heating oil and jet fuel consumed in the U.S. East Coast region is piped in via long-distance pipelines from Gulf Coast refineries, but substantial amounts are moved in by ship—either from the Gulf Coast by Jones Act vessels or from overseas. These shipped-in volumes then need to make their way from port to consumer. Today we continue our examination of how transportation fuels and heating oil are delivered to East Coast users with a look at the ports and connecting pipelines that help move these critically important fuels.

This is the third episode in our series describing the complicated but efficient networks developed since World War II to transport (as of now) some 4 MMb/d of gasoline, diesel, heating and jet fuel (which we have dubbed GDHJ) into the 17 East Coast states (and District of Columbia) that comprise Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) 1. That 4 MMb/d represents four-fifths of the East Coast’s consumption; the other 1 MMb/d is produced by refineries in the Central Atlantic states (mostly along the Delaware River near Philadelphia). As we said in Episode 1, the Gulf Coast region (PADD 3) produces about 7.5 MMb/d of GDHJ, and sends a good bit of that output (about 2.8 MMb/d) to the East Coast, more than 80% of it (about 2.3 MMb/d) via the two primary refined products conduits between and through the two regions: the 2.5 MMb/d Colonial and the 700 Mb/d Plantation pipelines. In Episode 2, we described those pipelines in some detail: their routes, injection points, storage-tank terminals, spurs and delivery points. We also discussed two other, midsized pipeline systems (Buckeye Partners’ and Sunoco Logistics’) that interconnect with Colonial and help deliver large volumes to consumers in the Central Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania). Today we consider the very different situations that each of the four sub-regions in PADD 1 (New England, Central Atlantic, Southeast, and Florida) find themselves in regarding the sources of their GDHJ and the means by which these refined petroleum products are delivered. As you’ll see, the Central Atlantic and Southeast sub-regions get most of their GDHJ via the Colonial and Plantation pipelines (and, in parts of the Central Atlantic, with assists from Buckeye and Sunoco pipes). In New England and Florida, though, waterborne deliveries play critical roles.

Thanks to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), we can provide 1) sub-region-level bar charts that show how much of the gasoline, distillates (diesel and heating oil) and jet fuel consumed in each region is delivered there, and 2) maps that depict the sub-region’s ports, pipelines and other delivery-related infrastructure.

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