BISMARCK, N.D. - Fuel suppliers say they're struggling to keep up with the cold-weather demand for higher grade diesel fuel.
"Whenever you get a cold, heavy winter like this, No. 1 becomes a hot commodity," said Mike Rud, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association. "We've got guys going as far as Wyoming and Denver to get product."
A fire Christmas Day at a refinery in Laurel has compounded the problem for some dealers, he said.
"It's a tough go right now, and it could be for another two to four weeks if it gets really cold, like January normally is," he said.
Cy Fix, the general manager for Bismarck-Mandan Cenex stores, said refineries cut back on production of the No. 1 diesel fuel after a series of warm winters.
Fix said one of his four stations ran dry for a short time last week. Some of his customers, including the Burleigh County road department, take about 3,000 gallons at a time.
No. 1 diesel is lighter and less dense than No. 2 fuels. It flows better in cold weather but is more expensive.
Fix said a Minot pipeline terminal had 630,000 gallons of No. 1 diesel available Christmas Day and it was gone the next day.
Mel Roth, the owner of a Tesoro station in Hazen, said on Monday that he ran out of dyed No. 1 diesel, specified for farm use. He said he expected his shortage to be temporary.
Paul Doll, manager of the Hazen Cenex, said obtaining No. 1 diesel this year comes down to being "at the right place at the right time."
Doll said he was part of the big run at the Minot terminal last week. He bought up his 3,500-gallon allocation and then paid an additional 20 cents per gallon to get more. The penalty is the terminal's way of trying to spread the fuel among as many stations as possible, he said.
Doll was selling No. 1 at $2.99 Monday, and No. 2 for about 30 cents less. He said dealers are doing their best to provide No. 1 diesel, or at least a blend.
"We're hanging in there," Doll said. "Normally we haven't had this cold for so long."
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