Cold calling

With more than 200 million Americans in the icy grip of a polar vortex, FON spoke to US fuel distributors Loud Fuel and Porco Energy to find out how they were coping.

Well seasoned

Working in and around the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, Loud Fuel’s managing director, Kabraul Tasha said that the company was finding it tough: “Cold weather is tough on the fuel in the trucks – trying to keep them running is difficult and, with the ice and snow staying around for longer, driving conditions are slowing down output.

“We were prepared for the last cold spell – I was way ahead on degree days with my autos, so it’s a little more comfortable not worrying about autos on the brink of running out. The best thing I have on my side is seasoned people both in the office and out in the field.”

Crunch time

Porco Energy, based at Marlboro, New York may not have had the snow that others have experienced, yet demand for product has increased by 10%. Porco Energy, which has 10,000 customers and covers a 40-mile radius from two different locations, delivers kerosene, fuel oil and propane.

“We’re normally busy at this time of year but when it gets really cold like this it’s crunch time,” said owner Joe Porco. “The extreme cold weather has put added pressure on us with increased deliveries and we do need to carry methyl alcohol in case we get frozen on a tank and fuel oil additive to stop gelling. Plus, due to several factors there’ve also been supply disruptions.

“In the north east our main propane supply is from the Teppco pipeline. Two pipelines start at Mont Belvieu, Texas to Todd Hunter, Ohio, with one continuing to Selkirk, NY from where we get most of our supply. This year Teppco has decided to reverse the flow of one line from Todd Hunter to Texas to export propane and shale gas. This puts an immediate strain on the amount of propane coming north.

“We supplement this with a contract for propane by rail, however, extreme cold out west and in Canada has at times affected pumps, compressors and valves, delaying delivery. Of course, all this supply and demand has increased costs.”