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Diesel in demand

Statewide fuel shortage affecting local suppliers, consumers

Pete Kuhl of All Kuhl Trucking finishes filling his truck with diesel fuel on Wednesday evening. A statewide diesel shortage is hitting consumers in their wallets, and suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand.
John F. Russell

— Routt County is not immune to the statewide diesel shortage.

At least one local diesel supplier is rationing its remaining supply of fuel, another already ran out, and truckers and other diesel consumers are paying premium prices to fill up their tanks.

“There is not enough fuel to go around,” said Frank Watson, a fuel transporter for Bear River Valley Co-Op in Hayden.



The company supplies Hayden ranchers with fuel, and a statewide shortage of diesel fuel has forced Bear River Valley Co-Op to ration its supply.

“Everyone wants to get their tanks topped off, but we have to make decisions about who gets what and how much,” Watson said Wednesday.



Watson was planning to drive to Denver on Wednesday night so his could be one of the first trucks in line at the supplier. More than 7,000 gallons is hauled to the Hayden cooperative every day.

“I don’t know if I’m going to get loaded,” Watson said about his chances of filling up in Denver. “I think people should expect it to get worse before it gets better.”

Prices for diesel have jump-ed to about $3.50 a gallon in Northwest Colorado in response to the shortage. The shortage has been blamed on higher demand from farms during the harvest, new federal clean-air rules, a storm that knocked out an Illinois refinery that helps supply Colorado and other factors. The new Environmental Protection Agency rules requires the sulfur content of diesel be reduced to 15 parts per million from 500 parts per million.

The shortage could not havecome at a worse time for local ranchers who are harvesting crops.

“This is really putting people in a bind,” Watson said.

In Steamboat Springs, Weston Oil employees put up signs alerting customers that the business was out of diesel Wednesday. The signs said fuel was expected to arrive this morning. A receptionist said no one at Weston Oil could talk about the shortage because they were busy dealing with the problem.

City of Steamboat Springs and Routt County officials could not be reached Wednesday afternoon to comment about the situation. Both the city and county purchase large quantities of diesel to fuel their fleets. Steamboat Springs Transit’s bus fleet consumes about 100,000 gallons of diesel every year.

Duckles Construction owner Fred Duckles said Wednesday that he had not yet run out of diesel and that he had enough fuel to operate his equipment for at least one more day. But Duckles did say he was concerned about keeping his own his supply.

“There is a lot of investment there to come to a screeching halt,” Duckles said.

In response to the shortage, Colorado officials temporarily lifted the limit on the number of hours truckers can work if they are delivering fuel. The rule suspension should help get more diesel to suppliers, said Joe Morales, director of the Department of Public Safety.

Some Colorado truck stops have been rationing diesel, limiting drivers to 50 or 75 gallons per fill-up. Semis typically take 100 to 300 gallons.


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