November 13, 2013

Propane shortage hits western North Dakota

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

An increased demand for propane, driven by both propane supply disruptions and an unusually high demand for propane this year, has caused a propane shortage across the Midwest, including McKenzie County.
According to Tony Volske, manager of Farmers Union Oil - Cenex, the propane supply has been tight, and it will continue to be tight until the farmers are done with harvest.
“The reason is that the farmers are trying to dry out their crops here and all over the country,” states Volske.
While Volske cannot speak to conditions across the country, he can attest to some of the things that caused an increased demand for propane in McKenzie County, such as the late start to the planting season due to  the wet weather in combination with a wet harvest season.
“People have had to wait a little longer for propane than usual,” states Volske. “We are just trying to adjust to the situation.”
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple is encouraging companies that supply propane to the state to do everything they can to get product to the state’s farmers who are dealing with propane shortages.
“Agriculture is North Dakota’s leading industry, employing roughly one-quarter of our work force. The weather this year has proven difficult on farmers, making it especially important for the energy and agriculture industries to work together to ensure high-quality crops,” Dalrymple said.
“As a farmer, I know all too well the need to dry grain and other crops. It is our hope that the propane suppliers will do all they can to provide product during this critical time,” states Dalrymple.
Propane is used by farmers to dry out crops including corn, grain and sunflowers, which are all produced by North Dakotans.
Last week, Dalrymple signed an executive order extending the hours of service for drivers supplying propane, gasoline and diesel fuel to retail suppliers. This extension was based on the shortage and the fact that delivery drivers are driving further to obtain propane and waiting longer to fill, which limits their ability to transport product. Suppliers have said that this order and similar orders were signed by governors of other Midwestern states has helped facilitate increased supplies to the region.