National Guard endorses creation of strategic diesel reserve
By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) endorsed on Tuesday the creation of a strategic diesel reserve on the island as a measure to mitigate the effects of supply chain disruptions caused by the impact of a major storm.
“Yesterday the Senate received the first report of Resolution 659, which orders the Innovation, Telecommunications and Infrastructure committees and the government to investigate the feasibility of creating a strategic diesel reserve for the purpose of having sufficient supplies during an emergency,” said Sen. Keren Riquelme Cabrera, author of the bill. “In that report, the PRNG endorsed the creation of this reserve, which we believe is of great importance to our people.”
The resolution also calls for the investigation of the location, capacity and construction of the reserve, along with access to federal funds, and that it be administered by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau and the Public Safety Department, and that its distribution be coordinated by the National Guard.
“In this first report, it is highlighted that the reserve is something viable and necessary because one of the great problems that the island faces every time it is hit by an atmospheric phenomenon is the high demand for diesel, since this fuel is used by most of the emergency electrical generators in hospitals, stores and government centers, among others,” the at-large senator said. “During a regular period, this is a fuel that doesn’t have as much output, in contrast to gasoline or gas; however, in an emergency, the use of diesel increases dramatically.”
Last year, Riquelme proposed the creation of a strategic diesel reserve just like those in the states of Texas and Louisiana. A network of several tanks can be underground -- depending on the final study -- where a sufficient volume of fuel can be stored to meet a high demand 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 percent of total fuel sales, between 160,000 and 175,000 million gallons each year. This, coupled with the fact that the fleet of tanker trucks that transport the fuel to its destination is relatively small compared to the refined gasoline fleet, means that in times of crisis the real possibility of a shortage arises.