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Pipeline company increases flow of propane to Midwest, Northeast

WASHINGTON – A pipeline company promises it will ship more propane to the Midwest and Northeast.

The action comes after the Obama administration responded to dozens of lawmakers and governors who demanded action as propane prices soared and temperatures plummeted.

Enterprise Product Partners told shippers it would inject an extra 150,000 barrels of propane into its pipeline Monday and 350,000 barrels Thursday. Later, in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it said it was willing to continue prioritizing shipments until Feb. 21.

The commission used its emergency powers for the first time to order more propane shipments after the fuel was reported in short supply and with prices in places five times what they normally were.

A combination of high demand due to a cold winter and a late harvest and historically low inventories has led to the shortages around the Upper Midwest.

Propane prices at Conway, Kan., a storage hub that serves the Upper Midwest, spiked at a record $5 a gallon at the end of January but have since come down to pre-crisis levels below $2.

More than 70 members of Congress wrote to President Barack Obama on Monday asking for more action.

More than 20 states have declared states of emergencies due to the propane situation.

Reuters news service contributed to this report.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.