Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published December 11, 2009, 08:09 AM

Cold weather prompts shortage of No. 1 diesel fuel in region

The rapid onslaught of frigid weather and a late harvest have created a demand wave for No. 1 diesel fuel throughout the region.
It’s been tough to find for consumers and suppliers alike.
“It got cold so fast we didn’t have enough on hand,” said Tammy Lorang, owner of Mount Vernon Gas & Oil.

By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic

The rapid onslaught of frigid weather and a late harvest have created a demand wave for No. 1 diesel fuel throughout the region.

It’s been tough to find for consumers and suppliers alike.

“It got cold so fast we didn’t have enough on hand,” said Tammy Lorang, owner of Mount Vernon Gas & Oil.

Supplies were equally tight for the premium fuel at Westy’s One Stop in Mount Vernon, owner Barb Johnson said.

“It’s what everyone is clamoring for,” she said, explaining that the lighter grade is the preferred cold-weather fuel. Supplies on hand when cold weather hit “got bought up in a hurry, because a lot of people were out.”

In sub-zero temperatures, normal No. 2 diesel can gel and quit flowing.

“No. 1 is half kerosene and it’s more expensive, but it doesn’t gel up like regular No. 2 diesel,” Johnson said. The heavier diesel can “wax up and plug your fuel filter,” Lorang added.

Both Mount Vernon locations were able to find some of the highly desired fuel, but customer demand hasn’t slackened.

Some diesel users try to stretch their No. 1 supplies by blending it with the heavier No. 2 diesel or by adding antigelling additives, but when large quantities of the fuel are required, the additives can get expensive.

The late harvest compounded the demand for No. 1 diesel, said Dave Holstein, energy manager for Farmers Alliance, Mitchell.

“Farmers need it to fuel tractors and combines so they can feed their cattle and harvest their fields,” said Holstein, adding that pipeline terminals from Rapid City to Yankton were out of No. 1 diesel Thursday.

“No. 1 is at a shortfall right now and you have to travel quite a distance to get it. We were pulling from McPherson, Kan.,” said Holstein.

Loads are spotty when they do come in, and the extra distance runs up costs. No. 1 diesel is selling for nearly $2.80 a gallon locally, roughly 10 percent more than regular diesel.

“We’ve got orders,” said Holstein, “but sometimes instead of delivering 500 gallons we may only be able to deliver 200 or 300 gallons.”

With more cold weather on the way, Holstein said area suppliers are likely to keep scrambling.

“This will be an issue we’ll fight probably through the month of December,” he said.

Tags: