Oklahoma joined 15 other states in relaxing licensing requirements for propane truckers, responding to a shortage of the fuel in the region due to refinery shutdowns and higher demand amid cold weather.
Gov. Mary Fallin's executive order allows eligible, out-of-state propane truckers to transport the fuel into the state without first getting a license. It also temporarily waives rules that limit the number of hours propane truck drivers can be on the road in a shift. The order expires Feb. 4.
“This executive order will help make sure that there is enough of a propane supply in the days and weeks ahead until problems are resolved,” Fallin said in a statement.
More than 400,000 Oklahoma customers depend on propane in rural areas not served by natural gas lines. Along with the colder weather, propane refineries in Kansas and Missouri had shutdowns this week that contributed to the tight supplies, said Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt.
Spot prices for propane at the Mont Belvieu, Texas, terminal rose to $1.25 per gallon at the end of last week, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. It was 87 cents per gallon a year ago. Spot prices don't include additional costs for transportation, storage and distribution to customers.
Kay Peters, with Oklahoma Liquefied Gas of Seminole, said she has heard of propane shortages in Arkansas but the company has enough storage space to serve all of its customers during the cold snap. OLG has customers across central Oklahoma and a sister company, Martin Foster's Fuel Service, has offices in Marlow and Duncan.
“We make sure we have plenty when we hear about cold weather coming,” Peters said. “It hasn't affected us, and hopefully it won't.”