Port of Tampa Bay affirms that partner fuel operators will be able to deliver fuel amidst impending storm

by | Aug 29, 2023



  • The Port of Tampa Bay affirmed on Tuesday that it anticipates uninterrupted operation logistics despite a fuel contamination issue caused by Citgo, one of five terminal operators partnered with the port. 
  • Upon outreach, however, the Port of Tampa Bay elucidated that while it is not directly affiliated with Citgo, which does not act under the purview of the port’s authority or oversight, it received affirmation that its partners will be able to handle gas delivery in the hours leading up to Idalia’s landfall.
  • The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced over the weekend that it identified potentially widespread fuel contamination caused by human error at the Port of Tampa, and that fuel purchased after 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 26, at stations supplied by Citgo from the Port of Tampa has a strong likelihood of being contaminated.

The Port of Tampa Bay and its five partner fuel terminal operators anticipate unmarred product delivery logistics as Hurricane Idalia bears down on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

With the storm anticipated to reach Florida’s coast on Wednesday, concerns emerged about fuel transportation. Questions arose after Citgo, one of the Port’s partner operators, identified product contamination due to a routing issue at the terminal on Saturday.

Upon outreach, however, the Port of Tampa Bay elucidated that while it is not directly affiliated with Citgo, which does not act under the purview of the port’s authority or oversight, it received affirmation that its partners will be able to handle gas delivery in the hours leading up to Idalia’s landfall.

“The port has been in contact with our five partner fuel terminal operators and have been assured they are prepared to deliver fuel and support consumers as Hurricane Idalia approaches and moves through our region,” the port’s Director of Communications told The Capitolist.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced over the weekend that it identified potentially widespread fuel contamination caused by human error at the Port of Tampa, and that fuel purchased after 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 26, at stations supplied by Citgo from the Port of Tampa has a strong likelihood of being contaminated.

On Tuesday, Citgo’s press contact Kate Robbins stated that a limited number of retail stores were impacted by the contamination. This was later confirmed by the state to be 29 locations in Southwest Florida, which were subsequently ordered to halt fuel sales.

“On Saturday, Aug. 26, CITGO discovered contaminated product at its Tampa, Fla. terminal as a result of a product routing issue at the terminal and immediately shut down the rack,” said Robbins in an email.

During a Monday morning press conference, Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson disclosed that the state was waiting on more than 20 testing samples from gas stations across the region, mostly at Citgo locations. As of yesterday morning, three tests returned, showing two samples as positive for contamination, with the remaining one cleared for use.

The latest information released by the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami reveals that Hurricane Idalia is rapidly intensifying as it makes its way toward Florida’s Gulf Coast. As of 8:00 AM EDT today, the storm is approximately 320 miles south-southwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving north at 14 mph. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 80 mph.

Data collected by NOAA Hurricane Hunters indicate that Idalia is likely to undergo rapid intensification before making landfall. Forecasters are predicting that it will become an “extremely dangerous major hurricane” by the time it reaches the coast on Wednesday.

Idalia’s current trajectory suggests it will make landfall near Steinhatchee, Florida, located just south of the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. The region is currently under a Storm Surge Warning, with water levels expected to rise significantly as the hurricane approaches. Storm surge heights could reach up to 8-12 feet from Aucilla River to Chassahowitzka, Florida.

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