Irma’s Logistics Strain Suspends Jones Act

 11 Sep 2017 10.39am

Downgraded Hurricane Irma has caused extensive damage to the Florida Keys and closed US ports, according to Bloomberg.

Ports and terminals including Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Port Everglades and Jacksonville have been closed to ships.

Irma, which has been downgraded from a category 5 to a tropical storm after hitting several islands in the Caribbean, hit the Florida Keys on September 10, 2017.

On September 11, the hurricane was slowly making its way along Eastern Florida, after it corrected a Western-Florida-bound course.

It is currently bringing its strong winds and storm-surge impacts to the port city of Miami.

Tampa and Port Everglades are distribution hubs for both gasoline and aviation fuels, and by law US-flagged, “Jones Act tonnage” would be servicing the transit.

But with current fleet dislocations for Jones Act tonnage, the Customs Border Protection (CBP) agency, a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issued a one-week waiver of the Jones Act, according to reports.

Read a related technical paper about how natural disasters, such as coastal hurricanes and flooding, can impact marine transportation.

This means tankers that are not Jones Act qualified can make intra-US shipments of petroleum products.

It is hoped the use of foreign-flagged tankers will make fuel available for evacuees returning home. 

The DHS memo said: “This waiver will ensure that over the next week, all options are available to distribute fuel to states and territories impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, both historic storms. The waiver will be in effect for seven days after signature and is specifically tailored to transportation of refined products in hurricane-affected areas.

At Georgia’s port in Savannah empty containers were tied down and cranes had been secured by September 8 ahead of its closure on September 10 and Brunswick Port was also closed. Both ports are expected to re-open on September 13, 2017.

Irma poses a threat to $1.2 billion worth of US agricultural production, including tomatoes, oranges, green beans, cucumbers, squash and sugar cane. Citrus crops are also threatened.

Read more: US Ports of Miami and Everglades are battening the hatches amid warnings about the approach of ‘extremely dangerous’ category 5 Hurricane Irma.

  Environment , Oil, Gas and Chemical Handling, Port Governance, Port Planning, Ports