By Gerry J. Gilmore
FORT BELVOIR, Va., Aug. 18, 2006 – There's plenty of fuel available to fill the tanks of U.S. military vehicles and aircraft despite widely reported accounts of a commercial oil pipeline rupture in Alaska, a senior Defense Department logistician said here yesterday. "We're in good shape all the time. We have significant fuel reserves. If fuel became locally unavailable, ... we could move fuel from elsewhere in the United States to cover DoD's requirements," John S. Bartenhagen Jr., Defense Energy Support Center deputy director for operations, said.
The center buys fuel for defense department needs. It is a component of the Defense Logistics Agency. Both organizations are located at Fort Belvoir. Early market speculation that the BP pipeline leak near Prudhoe Bay would disrupt U.S. oil supplies and inflate prices was premature, Bartenhagen said. In fact, oil has decreased in price since news of the incident emerged about 10 days ago.
Nonetheless, DESC officials responded quickly upon hearing of the Prudhoe Bay incident, Bartenhagen said, and contacted vendors to ensure there's a dependable supply of fuel and other petroleum products for U.S. military use. Before the global war on terrorism, DoD bought about 110 million barrels -- 42 gallons make a barrel -- of fuel each year, Bartenhagen said. Today, DoD buys about 130 million barrels of fuel annually, he said.
Bartenhagen said he couldn't envision circumstances when the United States' military forces would be lacking fuel. "We have never experienced a continuing shortage of fuel that resulted in DoD being unable to fulfill its fuel requirements," he concluded.