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    How to Plan Ahead for the Next Fuel Supply Shortage

    Fuel management expert provides tips for retailers after storm disrupts fuel supply in the Northeast.

    NORTHEAST REPORT -- Although electric power is returning to many municipalities in the Northeast following last weekend's rare October snowstorm that dumped as much as 20 inches within a 24-hour period on some towns, there are still areas without power leading to fuel supply disruptions throughout the region.

    Sudden winter snowstorms like last weekend's Nor'easter are often harder to prepare for than hurricanes, like Hurricane Irene that lashed the region in late August. "You usually have a lot of advance warning for a hurricane," said Ryan Mossman, vice president/general manager of the Fuel Center for Houston-based FuelQuest. "Storms like this can catch fuel retailers and convenience stores by surprise and they are harder to prepare for."

    In an interview with CSNews Online, Mossman provided some preparation tips for retailers so they can be better prepared for the next weather calamity. Among them:

    • Keep your fuel tanks topped off. This is not the time to optimize inventory, said Mossman. Also, schedule multiple deliveries in advance before supplies dwindle.

    • Factor in more time for deliveries to get to your site due to downed trees and closed roads. "Work with your fuel haulers and understand what alternative routes are available if the normal roads are shut down," he said.

    • Establish a good communication network with local government and emergency management officials. "Find out what officials are telling consumers," he said. "Are they recommending that people fill their gas tanks? That could quickly create shortages even before the storm hits."

    • Think outside your traditional supply area. Look and be prepared to go outside the immediate impact zone to obtain fuel from places not hit as hard by the bad weather.

    Mossman noted that the Northeast supply problems have eased greatly since earlier in the week, but there are still pockets of locations without power. A little planning ahead, though, could go a long way toward helping dealers cope with extreme weather conditions, he said.

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