In the event that the Persian Gulf crisis explodes into war, there is no reason for Marylanders to panic about fuel supplies, the director of the state energy office told a panel of public officials yesterday.
Donald E. Milsten, the director, told members of the governor's Energy Emergency Crisis Management Team that U.S. supplies of crude oil, refined gasoline and other fuels are sufficient to meet domestic needs for months.
"You can go to a gasoline pump today and see what's happening -- the price is dropping," said Mr. Milsten, who had taken part in a federal Department of Energy briefing Wednesday on fuel supplies and states' readiness. Mr. Milsten termed the recent decline in motor fuel prices a "clear indication" vTC of abundant supplies.
"Whatever happens in the Middle East," he said, "there is no reason for people to run out and top off their tanks."
Mr. Milsten cautioned, however, that the situation would have to be re-evaluated in the event of a protracted war -- and that the team members drawn from state and county government agencies would have the responsibility of advising Gov. William Donald Schaefer in the event of an energy emergency.
Maryland law provides for the energy office to administer a fuel set-aside program to guarantee supplies for essential public services and commerce.
In announcing yesterday's crisis-team meeting, Governor Schaefer said in a prepared statement: "Given the developments in the Persian Gulf, I wanted to make sure Maryland has made the necessary preparations to assure that we will have adequate supplies of gasoline and home heating fuel this year.
"I am satisfied that we are prepared, but I want to encourage Marylanders to use energy wisely, since this is the best defense against possible disruption."
Mr. Milsten said his chief energy concerns for now had nothing to do with the international tensions, but with delivery systems in this region -- inadequate pipeline development for the movement of propane, and whether the environmental push toward a changeover to costly double-hull barges to prevent leakage might affect the delivery of heating fuel next year.