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Iowa Losing 13 Percent of Propane Supply

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Late last month, energy titan Kinder Morgan reversed the Cochin pipeline that runs through eastern Iowa, in order to send thinning agents north into Canada’s oil fields. In re-purposing the pipeline, Iowa’s propane users will lose about 13 percent of the total supply.

Currently, foreign demand for propane has ramped up, pulling American supplies to Mont Bell-View, Texas, and its proximity to export terminals, rather than the landlocked facility in Conway, Kansas, closer to Iowa. And that’s to say nothing of the continued dearth of pressurized rail cars able to haul propane which aren't being used to haul natural gas liquids out of North Dakota’s Bakken Formation.

Ag Marketing Program Executive Officer Harold Hommes with the Iowa Department of Agriculture says reversing the pipeline will put pressure on Iowa’s propane inventories in another, albeit indirect, way.

“The Cochin supplies about 38 percent of Minnesota’s annual propane needs,” he says. “So the combination of our loss of that 13 percent, in addition to those 38 percent of retailers looking to send their trucks to various terminals to load out from Minnesota; I’m afraid the combination is going to result in a lot of extra tags from trucks showing up from Minnesota. So, there’s going to be new pressure on our remaining terminals, where we still continue to enjoy adequate propane supplies.”

Hommes believes it's too early to tell if Iowa will suffer another propane shortage this winter, but suggests that working to increase storage capacity, whether it's residential or commercial, is a good strategy, even without a looming shortage.


  • Troy Hendrickson

    They need to prioritize propane for heating before anything else. People died last winter for lack of heat, and part of the shortage was due to ag use. Human life trumps profit. Well it should at least, but in the religion of capitalism, not so much.

    • Gerry McEwen

      I wonder if you have noticed that, everywhere across the country, every time a new or expansion of an existing storage facility is proposed environmental activists skillfully rouse the local population to oppose it. The Finger Lakes proposed facility in New York is a perfect example. The salt caverns are already there and this type of storage for propane has been used safely for decades. The project has been seeking approval for 3 or more years and still has not been approved.

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