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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

House panels back proposal to create strategic diesel reserve

Sen. Keren Riquelme Cabrera

By The Star Staff

The creation of a strategic diesel reserve on the island as a measure to mitigate the effects of interruptions in the diesel supply chain caused by the impact of a major storm is feasible and the relevant agencies should be ordered, through legislation, to develop a plan for the reserve distribution of diesel in cases of emergency.

That was the conclusion of the Senate Innovation, Telecommunications & Infrastructure and Government committees with regard to Senate Resolution 659, which ordered an investigation into the feasibility of creating a strategic diesel reserve in order to have sufficient supplies during an emergency.

“Yesterday, the full Senate received the final report on Resolution 659. That report clearly highlights that the construction of this type of reserve in Puerto Rico is not only viable, but necessary,” said Sen. Keren Riquelme Cabrera, who authored the bill. “It even validates our position because it recommends that legislation be developed aimed at directing the state agencies that would be involved in the creation of this reserve to create a plan that includes the location of the reserve, the system of valves and pipes, among others, as well as the permitting and distribution structure.”

In 2022, Riquelme proposed the creation of a strategic diesel reserve such as those in the states of Texas and Louisiana. A network of several tanks can be underground -- depending on the final study -- where enough of the fuel can be stored to meet a high demand for it for a period of up to 60 days.

According to data provided by fuel retailers in Puerto Rico, diesel sales in normal periods represent 20% of total fuel sales, between 160,000 and 175,000 million gallons each year. This added to the fact that the fleet of tankers that transport this fuel to its destination is relatively small compared to that of refined gasoline, means that in times of crisis the real possibility of a shortage arises.

The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, managed by the U.S. Department of Energy, is the largest in the world. It consists of a network of underground tanks in salt domes located on the shores of the Gulf Coasts of Louisiana and Texas. It has the capacity to store over 714 million barrels and the capacity to expand if necessary.

“I recognize the work of the chairs of these two committees, as well as the fellow senator for Bayamón, Migdalia Padilla, who joined as a co-author of this measure,” Riquelme said. “This reserve will help us improve the response to the people in the event of an emergency, ensuring a constant distribution of this fuel, which is used in most emergency generators.”

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