Why Is There a Propane Shortage?


Quick Answer

The propane shortage that affected much of the Midwest during the winter of 2013 and early 2014 was caused by many factors, including the closing of a propane pipeline, increased demand, severe weather and a delay in Canadian imports. Officials did not predict a shortage for the 2014-2015 winter season.

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Full Answer

The closing of the Canadian Cochin pipeline played a major role in the shortage, which was further exacerbated by a sudden, dramatic increase in the use of propane for drying corn used as animal feed during the extreme winter weather. The pipeline was originally closed for repairs, but it has since been permanently shut down, which may have an effect on future propane supplies to the Midwest.

In order to combat the shortage, propane imports from Canada were increased, but unfortunately, delivery was delayed. The primary reason for the delay was that the gas was being shipped by rail, but the rail lines were already overloaded with shipments of oil from Canada and North Dakota.

One of the biggest results of the shortage was the dramatic increase in the price of propane, which quickly shot up to more than four times the normal price. This led to many poorer residents being unable to afford propane to heat their homes, which forced the government to provide heating assistance to a large number of families.

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