Pipes, Tankers and Barges: Moving Fuels from Gulf to East Coast

February 2016, Vol. 243, No. 2

In the United States, the East Coast and Gulf Coast are highly dependent on each other to balance supply and consumption of transportation fuels (mainly gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel). East Coast transportation fuels consumption is met through a number of supply sources, but none is more important than supply from the Gulf Coast. Conversely, surplus supply in the Gulf Coast is distributed to a number of domestic and foreign markets, but none is larger than the East Coast.

EIA has commissioned studies of transportation fuels supply, consumption, and distribution in certain regions of the country, as defined by Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs). The most recent study involves the East Coast and Gulf Coast regions and nine sub-PADD regions: four in the East Coast and five in the Gulf Coast.

Two pipelines, the Colonial Pipeline and the Plantation Pipeline, typically operate at or near full capacity and in 2014 moved approximately 2.3 MMbpd of transportation fuels from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. The Colonial system consists of 5,500 pipeline-miles and has connections to 29 refineries and 267 customer terminals. The Plantation system consists of 3,100 pipeline-miles and 36 pumping stations and has connections to 90 terminals at 34 delivery locations.

An additional 500,000 bpd of transportation fuel is shipped from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast by coastwise-compliant tankers and barges, primarily to ports in Florida. Together, net pipeline and waterborne shipments from the Gulf Coast to delivery points in the East Coast are equal to 58% of East Coast consumption and 37% of Gulf Coast supply.

Waterborne movements, both coastal and internal river movements, connect supply and consumption centers between and within the Gulf Coast and East Coast regions.

The Gulf Coast region, particularly the areas of Texas and Louisiana near the coast, is characterized by large outbound shipments of products primarily delivered to markets in the East Coast (especially Florida) and to export destinations, but also to coastal and riverine markets in other areas of the Gulf Coast as well as the Midwest.

Principal contributors to the report were Mason Hamilton and Hannah Breul, Energy Information Administration

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