Jeff LaPan, a spokesman for CHS Incorporated, a Minnesota company that sells propane on the wholesale market, says Midwesterners used about 1.2-million barrels of propane last week and only about 5-million barrels are left in the region.
“At that pace, we potentially could run out of propane sometime potentially mid- to the end of February,” La Pan says. “It’s a potential.”
About 8% of Nebraska homes use propane as heating fuel.
LaPan says a combination of factors led to this year’s shortage — the shutdown of a key pipeline, below-average supplies on October 1st, higher demand for propane to dry the 2013 harvest and higher demand from homeowners due to frigid temperatures.
“Now, I’ve committed to not say ‘perfect storm,’ but let’s just say that many events happened all at once to create the situation that we’re in,” LaPan says. “This is an anomaly. This is not our normal propane demand.”
Propane prices hit a record high last week at a distribution hub in Conway, Kansas, while prices in some areas of rural Nebraska rose to five-dollars a gallon. A week earlier, it was less than half that price in Nebraska.
Elsewhere, Iowa’s governor sent a letter to President Obama on Monday, asking the president to ease or waive whatever federal regulations he can that might make it easier to get propane to market. Also Monday, Minnesota’s governor declared a state of emergency because of a severe shortage of propane and other home heating fuels.