Made in Jersey – fuelling a metropolis

Last edited: 6 January 2015

Located in the New York Harbour area, BP’s Carteret terminal is a major hub for fuel supply. Every day, thousands of gallons of gasoline and diesel are blended here and then shipped out to serve the largest metropolitan area in North America

When you think of New Jersey on the US east coast, you probably imagine smoke stacks and The Sopranos. Think of BP in the US and it’s likely that its operations in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska spring to mind. And yet, without BP’s New Jersey-based Carteret fuel terminal the New York City-region would run short of motor fuel.

The facility provides fuel products to serve a population of 19.8 million in the New Jersey/New York region – the largest metropolitan area in the US. Only Mexico City has more people in North America. On a busy day, around two million gallons of gasoline and diesel are shipped from the facility to retail sites throughout the area. The terminal supplies more fuel to the region than any other facility in the market.

And while it may not be as large and as complex as a refinery, or as impressive as an offshore oil rig, Jim Bergeron, marketing supply manager for BP’s east of Rockies fuels value chain says, “This terminal is a major component of the region’s economic engine.”

Carteret’s importance to the region was vividly illustrated in October 2012 when the eastern seaboard was struck by Hurricane Sandy. The second-costliest hurricane in US history, Sandy affected 24 states and knocked out power from North Carolina to New England. Residents and government agencies desperately needed fuel for vehicles and generators. Just three days after the storm struck, BP Carteret was distributing it.

“The Carteret team had enough foresight to position portable generators before the storm and bring them in after it hit,” says Bergeron. “Being the first and only terminal operating in the area, we got several calls from the New York mayor’s office to help provide fuel to the police and fire departments.”
"Being the first and only terminal operating in the area, we got several calls from the New York mayor’s office to help provide fuel to the police and fire departments."
- Jim Bergeron

Unique role

The terminal, operated in conjunction with an adjacent Kinder Morgan fuel facility, is situated in the industrialized northern part of the state near a tidal straight with the Old Dutch name of Arthur Kill (roughly meaning, back channel).

Carteret’s role is unique, because, in addition to being able to store and load fuel for retail delivery trucks, it is also equipped and staffed to blend the fuel. This is vital to customers who require competitive finished product ready for market. The basic unfinished components that eventually make up the gasoline and diesel that the customer buys at the pump are brought into Carteret via Colonial pipeline, as well as by barge or ship.

“Refineries make gasoline components that can be used in various recipes to make gasoline, much like a food recipe, like making a cake,” says Dale Schlottmann, global light ends operations manager. “We do the same thing by blending different quantities or percentages of various gasoline components to meet gasoline specifications.”

Global light ends operations provides direction to the terminal to blend components in a tank. This blend must meet over 35 specifications before certifying as a gasoline ready for market, including octane, emission standards for various regions and seasonality requirements.

“We then hire a third party lab to test the product and if it meets all specifications the lab will certify it as finished gasoline,” Schlottmann says. “At that point we authorize the terminal to transfer into a tank that feeds the trucks which take it to market.”

In numbers

terminal storage tanks with a capacity of 1.2 million barrels
acres – the area of land where the terminal sits
The population of the New Jersey-New York City metropolitan area

Made to order

Wilson Tubie is a shift supervisor at Carteret and one of his responsibilities is to receive fuel orders from BP’s Integrated Supply and Trading unit and then shepherd the order through the blending, testing and storing process.

His work vocabulary is filled with terms like Pbob (Premium Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending) and Rbob (Reformulated Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending) as well as more traditional terms such as naphtha, and alkylate. All of them are the components of fuel that are mixed daily at the facility.

One of the first steps in processing an order is to determine which tanks will provide the product, which lines will move it, and which tank will store it. According to Tubie, orders for regular 87 octane gasoline are received every few days while a request for a higher octane premium fuel, will be processed around every five days for loading in to tanker trucks. The blended fuel is also transported to customers via pipeline or barge.

“An order of 52,000 barrels, depending on pump capacity, will take anywhere from 10 to 14 hours to complete,” he says.

The finished product that is destined for distribution by truck is then transferred from storage tanks to tanker trucks via a load rack that resembles a very large service station.
"Refineries make gasoline components that can be used in various recipes to make gasoline, much like a food recipe, like making a cake."
- Dale Schlottmann

Pumping fuel

New Jersey is one of only two US states that forbid motorists by law from pumping their own fuel. However, the law does not cover the terminal’s big trucks and their drivers connect the rack hose and pump the liquid into the tanker. Each truck driver must complete a safety and procedure course and adhere to a strict set of rules before being allowed to load fuel.

According to terminal manager Jack Cowart, all of the operations and activities of the facility are conducted jointly with an adjacent Kinder Morgan terminal and BP has a close working relationship with its neighbour.

The product from the tanks at each property can be seamlessly pumped back and forth as needed, giving both terminals more capacity and flexibility.

Kevin Golankiewicz, Kinder Morgan director of business development, says each partner contributes to the operation. While the two organisations have worked together for the past 20 years, that relationship has become more focused in the past five.

“In 2011 we completed the expansion of seven tanks built specifically for BP, about one million barrels of storage,” he says. “At that point it was decided that we really need to operate as one unit and it was a very positive change as it added to the strategic value of the whole Carteret complex.”

Each day, the facility trucks out around 37,000 barrels of fuel and Cowart says he wants to raise the figure to 42,000 by 2015: “The ultimate goal is to hit the figure of 50,000 barrels daily. I am really confident that teamwork and all the skills and capabilities of everyone at Carteret will help us reach our goals.”

In the spotlight…

BP in New Jersey

  • The Garden State is home to Castrol's largest US office
  • BP terminals in Carteret and Port Newark
  • Air BP serves Newark Liberty International Airport
  • 360+ employees
  • More than 2,000 local jobs supported
  • $195 million in vendor spend is equal to more than a month’s worth of tourism revenue from the New Jersey Shore

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