Facebook Twitter

PUTTING A FREEZE ON ENERGY SUPPLIES

SHARE PUTTING A FREEZE ON ENERGY SUPPLIES

The Christmas weekend cold snap has stretched the nation's energy system to the maximum and created "spot shortages" of heating fuels in some areas, the Energy Department's chief of emergency preparedness said Saturday.

"At the moment we think we can get through this abnormally cold weather," without widespread energy shortages, but the outlook could darken if refineries break down or other unforeseen problems develop, said John J. Easton Jr.Easton, the assistant energy secretary for international affairs and energy emergencies, said the government was not considering imposing any price or allocation controls.

Easton said the department wanted to reassure the public that "the federal government is concerned" about the hardships posed by heating fuel shortages, and that it is actively trying to "cut the red tape to relieve the bottlenecks."

"This is not an emergency," Easton said, stressing that supplies of heating oil and natural gas as of Saturday were adequate, although refineries were operating at maximum capacity to meet "unprecedented demand" for heating fuels.