On Friday, Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, signed a waiver which will allow gasoline and other refined products to move between US ports on foreign-flagged vessels over the next seven days.
The US is waiving Jones Act requirements until September 15 to address a potential fuel shortage in Florida caused by the approaching Hurricane Irma and lingering Gulf Coast pipeline and refinery disruptions following Hurricane Harvey.
The Jones Act was a piece of legislation that came about in 1920 and mandates that vessels transporting goods between US ports have to be flagged, built, crewed and owned by the US.
According to administrative officials, the waiver is needed to “facilitate” shipments of refined petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, from ports in New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico. It is set to be in place for 7 days but maybe extended as per requirement.
SeaRiver, a Houston-based subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, requested the waiver in a letter to US Customs and Border Protection on September 2. The request was for a month-long waiver to “allow us to use foreign flag vessels to help alleviate disruptions to the transportation of crude oil and petroleum products to the affected areas as well as other US regions supplied from Texas,” according to a letter released by CBP. The company stated, “While we continue to canvass the market, Jones Act tonnage remains in very tight supply and we are frequently unable to identify suitable tonnage within the given parameters.”