Propane Price Spike Leaving Oklahomans In The Cold

Friday, January 24th 2014, 5:56 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Many people are talking about the huge jump in propane prices which seem to be going up by the hour. Lots of people in rural areas use it to heat their homes. In just the last week alone, the price has more than doubled.

The propane industry says there's not a shortage, just problems getting it where it needs to go.

A major pipeline is having problems, so more is going by truck - while the demand is up because of the cold.

Berryhill resident Bill Hoover is bundled up outside - but even inside, he's cold. He runs his heat from a propane tank, and keeps his thermostat at 62 degrees.

"If we had it any higher than that, we couldn't afford propane, we couldn't afford to live," said Berryhill resident Bill Hoover.

Hoover - and anybody who uses propane - is feeling the pinch. The price has almost tripled this winter.

For a typical homeowner with a 250 gallon tank, topping off can run up towards $1,000.

"It takes me 4 gallons a day to keep our thermostat at 62 degrees, and we have to wear long handles, long socks, and hats, just to stay warm, inside our house," Hoover said.

  • Last fall: $1.85 a gallon.
  • Last week: $2.35a gallon
  • Thursday: $3.60 a gallon
  • Friday: $4.20 a gallon

Next week - several distributors believe it will hit $5. The price jump is upstream from distributors like LaFerry's in Haskell.

"The people we buy from, don't have a posted price now, we have to call hourly to get the latest price," said Alan LaFerry, LaFerry's Propane.

LaFerry says in 50 years of business, his company has never dealt with a price swing like this. He knows it's a hardship for his customers.

"Some are telling us we've got to have so go ahead an bring it, others are telling us they'll do without it for now," he said.

People who use propane are either turning down the thermostat, or using space heaters to get by. The cold snap isn't helping - as the price continues to rise.

"I don't know what people are going to do on propane out in the country," said Bill Hoover, a Berryhill resident who sets his thermostat at 62 degrees.

Most of the propane in Northeastern Oklahoma comes out of Coffeyville, Kansas. Truckers are working longer hours to deliver it from there - and other suppliers, but it's being used so fast, they can't keep up.

Again the industry says there's no shortage, it's just not moving around fast enough.