By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, July 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. government will have its planned gasoline stockpile for the Northeast region in place in time to respond to possible supply disruptions at the height of the 2014 hurricane season, the Energy Department said on Thursday.
Earlier this year, the department announced creation of the million-barrel gasoline reserve, which was deemed necessary after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 left many motorists on the East Coast without fuel.
"As Americans confront the most active portion of the 2014 hurricane season, the Northeast Regional Refined Petroleum Product Reserve will be ready," the department said in a post on its website.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, with the busiest period typically between mid-August and October.
Sandy hit the Northeast in late October of 2012.
The United States maintains a strategic reserve of crude oil on the Gulf Coast with a capacity of 727 million barrels, and a northeast heating oil reserve that can hold up to a million barrels of diesel. Until now, the country has never had a gasoline stockpile.
Contracts to purchase and store the gasoline have already been awarded, with 800,000 barrels of gasoline set to be delivered to storage facilities by Aug. 1 and 200,000 barrels of gasoline set to be delivered prior to Sept. 1.
The department did not specify which companies had been awarded the contracts. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by David Gregorio)