Propane shortage strikes Mid-Missouri

Feb 20, 2014

Some Kirksville residents are finding it hard to stay warm this winter due to a propane inventory shortage in the area.

propane tank
Credit ryochiji / Flickr

The shortage has caused the price of propane to increase and the higher prices are making it difficult for some low income families to afford the amount of propane needed to heat their homes. Local companies, such as the Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency, are assisting those in need of propane by providing funds to reduce their bill. NMCAA employee Mindy Garrett said even the reduced cost of propane NMCAA can provide is not enough for some families, forcing the agency to provide even more funds than usual to families in need.

“Customers can apply for energy assistance and so what the state has done is that anyone who has been approved for energy assistance would get a supplemental payment for propane,” Garrett said. “That’s helping some people, but with the highering cost of propane, it’s not allowing them to get minimum delivery so crisis money is becoming available to those who can’t pay that difference.”

MFA Oil Director of Marketing Tom May blames the shortage on a “perfect storm of events” causing the supply to reach record lows this year.

“We started 2013 with a record number of exports going out of the country due to substantially higher prices in the world for propane than what we currently have domestically,” May said. “We followed that up in the fall with grain drying demand, where they use propane for drying down the moisture content in grain, so that took up a significant amount of inventory. Then you follow right back into November and up until now with a record cold snap across a pretty wide swath of the country.”

May said some Missouri propane companies are working to bring propane supplies back to normal by keeping propane prices high to limit the number of exports leaving the country, and by making pipelines across the United States prioritize shipment to the Midwest.