NPR Story
11:09 am
Wed January 8, 2014

It's Cold, But Here Are 3 Other Reasons Oklahoma is Running Short on Propane

Propane tank in the snow.

K.G. Hawes / Flickr

About 400,000 mostly rural Oklahomans rely on propane to heat their homes, and demand for the fuel has skyrocketed along with prices, which are more than 50 cents higher than last year.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday issued an executive order easing licensing requirements for propane truckers to address the shortage. Fifteen other states have issued similar orders.

Extremely cold weather and a series of winter storms has fueled the propane spike, but other factors have contributed to the shortage.

1. Recent Mild Winters

It seems counterintuitive, but two years of mild Oklahoma winters has been a factor in the state’s dwindling propane supply, which is down 30 percent from last year. Here’s how the Oklahoma LP Gas Marketing and Safety Commission’s Executive Director Richard Hess explained it to News on 6 reporter Tess Maune:

“Propane retailers or distributors base their purchases on previous year’s sales.”

2. Pipeline Changes

Pipelines also play a role in Oklahoma’s propane shortage, Maune reports. A pipeline built to transport propane to the Tulsa area was recently converted to carry crude oil.

“So that’s eliminated one of the transportation methods,” Hess tells the TV station.

3. Refinery Issues

Problems at refineries in nearby states has also cut into Oklahoma’s propane supply, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

… propane refineries in Kansas and Missouri had shutdowns this week that contributed to the tight supplies, said Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt.

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