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Heating fuel shortages worsen amid winter storms

As large swaths of the nation get hit yet again with brutally low temperatures, 2 states declare emergencies so oil can be delivered faster.

By Money Staff Jan 21, 2014 4:53PM

This post comes from Hal M. Bundrick at partner site MainStreet.

MainStreet on MSN MoneyAs the upper Midwest, the Great Lakes and the Northeast button up for the return of frigid weather and snow, the return of the popularly termed but meteorologically inaccurate "polar vortex" is sharpening heating fuel shortages.

Call it whatever you will: PVII, the Big Chill or just Typical Winter – the icy temperatures are straining the already limited supplies of liquid propane.

A man shovels snow January 6, 2014 in Detroit © Rebecca Cook/ReutersPropane distributors are deploying extra teams of drivers to help meet demand, while simultaneously conserving remaining supplies. Deliveries are being prioritized to allocate much of the scarce inventory to consumers who are facing empty tanks and frozen homes.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have both issued declarations of emergency to suspend driver restrictions temporarily, enabling increased deliveries of heating oil and propane to local dealers. Commercial drivers can now operate on weekends and without limits on consecutive days of work.

Kasich is also asking the federal government to take similar steps so that propane gas shipments can be shipped into Ohio more quickly from other states. So far, 30 states have issued "hours of service" relief to commercial haulers in order to relocate LP and heating oil to areas in most need.

"This will help get propane companies resupplied so Ohioans who use propane to heat their homes can stay warm, while also doing it safely," Kasich said in a statement. "We're also working closely with county officials to look out for people whose supplies might be getting low. I urge folks to look out for one another right now. Check in on your neighbors, especially seniors or families with young kids, and call your local Red Cross or EMA if there's anyone who needs help."

Meanwhile, consumers are being asked to limit use as much as possible until shortages are alleviated.

Fuel industry analysts say that increased fall crop drying, combined with recent record cold has boosted demand and crimped supplies of liquid propane, especially in the Midwest.

More from MainStreet

Jan 21, 2014 6:31PM
Jan 21, 2014 6:55PM
LOOK OUT FOR THE PRICE GOUGING THAT THESE "shortages " bring, slick way for them to make up for the last several "mild"' winters.
Jan 21, 2014 6:35PM
With all these oil and gas wells we 'seem' to have these days, you would think the energy companies and the government would know to stockpile for the "WINTER". But, no, the over-paid CEOs and bumbling bureaucrats have absolutely NO FRIGGIN CLUE! Well, yea, they do- it's all about the MONEY, not somebody freezing to death.
Jan 21, 2014 7:52PM
Meanwhile, consumers are being asked to limit use as much as possible until shortages are alleviated.
...uhhh , yes stop watering your lawn with fuel
Jan 22, 2014 5:39PM
It is true.  My wood pile is getting smaller.
Jan 22, 2014 2:00PM
This is just the start people, Rollerball is coming to a government near you. It's time to take the country back from the "legalized" racketeers. They already own the government(s) so now they are going after the people directly. Put everything you can into SWHC, RGR and ATK - Your future depends on it.
Jan 22, 2014 1:02PM
STOP THE EXPORT OF ALL OIL PRODUCTS and see how fast the shortage stops.
Jan 22, 2014 10:39AM
Gee like we never had winter before. Recent past years have been mild. Sounds more like they got complacent.
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