The biggest refineries in the Northeast shut down or throttled back on Monday in advance of Sandy, and oil prices fell sharply as it appeared the massive storm would reduce demand.
Phillips 66 shut down its Linden, N.J., refinery, the second-biggest in the Northeast at 285,000 barrels per day. The biggest refinery in the area, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, was nearly shut. Most other big refineries in the Northeast were running at reduced capacity.
Businesses could be shut for days. If so, demand for gasoline and other oil products would drop sharply. The power outages and the shutdown of major cities "may take a toll on demand unlike anything we have seen before," wrote Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst for Price Futures Group, in a report.
Part of a nuclear power plant was shut down late Monday while another plant -- the nation's oldest -- was put on alert after water from Superstorm Sandy rose 6 feet above sea level.
One of the units at Indian Point, about 45 miles north of New York City, was shut down around 10:45 p.m. because of external electrical grid issues, said operator Entergy Corp. The company said there was no risk to employees or the public. Another unit at the plant was still operating at full power.
The oldest U.S. nuclear plant, New Jersey's Oyster Creek, was already out of service for scheduled refueling. But high water levels at the facility, prompted safety officials to declare an "alert," the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system.
Conditions were still safe there and at all other U.S. nuclear plants, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Nuclear power plants are built to withstand hurricanes, airplane collisions and other major disasters, but safety procedures call for plants to be shut down when hurricane-force winds are present, or if water levels nearby exceed certain limits.
Travelers flying between the Twin Cities and the eastern U.S. Tuesday will find many of their flights canceled. Delta Air Lines Monday canceled all its scheduled Tuesday flights from New York City to the Twin Cities, as well as flights to New York at least through midday.