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3:01 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Oklahoma Propane Supplier Has 'Never Seen' Prices This High

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration lists the current average price of propane nationwide at just over $4 per gallon, more than a dollar higher than last week’s record setting price of $2.96.

As StateImpact reported earlier this month, that’s a big deal for the 10 percent or so of Oklahomans who rely on propane to heat their homes.

The Tahlequah Daily PressSean Rowley talked to a local supplier in rural northeast Oklahoma:

“Everyone is having some problems,” said Paul Laney, owner of Liberty Propane Co. in Cookson. “I’ve been in this business a lot of years, and I’ve never seen anything come close to this.”

It’s not unusual for propane prices to be higher during a cold winter, but a number of factors conspired to create this situation.

Reasons cited for the shortage include a colder-than-normal winter, the shutdown of a major pipeline for maintenance, temporary shutdowns at refineries and high precipitation during autumn, which required farmers to use more propane to dry corn harvests.

“There’s a pipeline that runs from Kansas to Tulsa, which was shut down in the spring,” Laney said. “That didn’t create a problem with supply, but with distribution. Then we had a record corn crop … Then we’ve had a record-cold winter and people are using a lot of propane…”

Laney told the paper he’s stretching his supply by limiting delivery sizes, which he says has reduced the price for his propane.

The state government has also acted:

Shortages have led 24 states, including Oklahoma, to raise limits on driving hours fo operators of propane transport vehicles…

Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order, allowing propane truck drivers from out of state to transport the fuel into Oklahoma without acquiring a license.

Copyright 2014 StateImpact Oklahoma. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/.