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WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 03, 2011, 10:38 AM

Fuel shortages a big problem in the Dakotas

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Fuel shortages that often occur during the busy fall harvest season in the Dakotas have reached levels not seen in years, industry officials say.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Fuel shortages that often occur during the busy fall harvest season in the Dakotas have reached levels not seen in years, industry officials say.

Gasoline and diesel shortages at fuel terminals throughout much of the Dakotas and into Minnesota have fuel truck drivers sitting in line for hours, waiting for fuel to arrive via pipeline. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple both have relaxed service hour restrictions for commercial fuel truckers.

"This is worse than 2007-08," Dawna Leitzke, director of the South Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association, told the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/tJOIIZ ). "That was a supply nightmare. This is quickly escalating to a worse situation."

Four years ago, refinery outages were largely to blame for fall fuel shortages in the region. North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association President Mike Rud said earlier this fall that a refinery maintenance shutdown in Montana was partly to blame for low supplies, but this year there also are other factors. An early harvest in South Dakota put farmers into competition for diesel fuel with their counterparts in other states. There is a big demand from vehicles in the booming oil patch in western North Dakota, and work related to major flooding in the two states this year also has eaten into supplies.

Even in a normal year, South Dakota petroleum dealers will journey as far as Kansas and Oklahoma for gasoline and diesel to keep their customers supplied, Leitzke said. This year, the fuel is becoming even harder to find.

Dean Koch, energy division manager for Central Farmers Co-op, drove by the huge Magellan Midstream Partners fuel depot in Sioux Falls this week. No deliveries are expected there before Monday.

"There wasn't a truck in the place," Koch said. "No gas. No diesel."

Spokesman Bruce Heine said pipeline companies are scrambling to keep up.

"This is not an issue of infrastructure that failed," he said. "The demand has just been very high."

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