Lining up for diesel fuelAn estimated 50 trucks lined the driveway and fields surrounding the NuStar Energy fuel terminal about three miles south of Jamestown Wednesday. Truckers from around the region were there to load at what was said to be the only source of diesel fuel not committed to gas station chains in North Dakota.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
An estimated 50 trucks lined the driveway and fields surrounding the NuStar Energy fuel terminal about three miles south of Jamestown Wednesday. Truckers from around the region were there to load at what was said to be the only source of diesel fuel not committed to gas station chains in North Dakota.
“As far as I know, for unbranded diesel fuel, this is the only source,” said Jeff Pogatshnik, dispatcher and fuel buyer for Vining Oil. “I’m sitting in a bean field next to a corn field waiting for hours to get a load of fuel. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Greg Matula, media relations spokesperson for NuStar Energy, said the terminal is operating at capacity.
“Our racks at both of our Jamestown terminals are running at full capacity and we are filling trucks as fast as possible,” he wrote in an email response to questions.
Pogatshnik estimated his wait in line would be at least 12 hours from arrival to loading.
Along with local haulers, truckers from outside the region were also waiting in line.
“If you see a truck in line that’s not from around here it’s probably hauling to the Oil Patch,” he said. “They’re sucking a lot of fuel out of the area.”
There are only five fuel terminals in North Dakota with two located near Jamestown. None are located in the Oil Patch.
“Grand Forks has been out of diesel since mid-August,” Pogatshnik said. “Fargo had been short but keeping up until they ran out last night (Tuesday). The second terminal west of Jamestown is also out and the refinery at Mandan and that’s all there is for terminals.”
North Dakota’s only refinery does produce diesel fuel.
“I can say we are producing at capacity without a hitch or hiccup,” said Dave Schollars, human resources manager at Tesoro’s refinery in Mandan.
Schollars wouldn’t say how much diesel is produced each day.
The NuStar terminal is connected by pipeline with refineries in Kansas and Oklahoma. An automated call-in system alerted drivers Tuesday night that fuel would be available Wednesday, Pogatshnik said.
Fuel haulers monitor the call-in systems for all the terminals to learn when fuel is available.
“We don’t know when or where they will have fuel,” Pogatshnik said speaking of the fuel terminals. “They don’t ever tell you why.”
Increased demand for diesel fuel for the harvest, as well as oil production, has outpaced production, according to John Fritz, general manager of Farmers Union gas station in Jamestown.
“That’s a major problem,” he said. “The oil industry takes a lot of fuel to make crude but we’re just trying to keep up with harvest.”
Matula also blames the problems on harvest pressure.
“There don’t appear to be any interruptions or other disruptions to supply in the region,” he said by email. “The supply shortage is simply due (to) the seasonal demand with the harvest.”
Pogatshnik said the competition from fuel users outside the region could ultimately impact the local harvest.
“Our big concern is getting diesel to the farmers and truck stops,” he said. “So far we’ve kept people going but when they call for a tanker load we may be only able to give them 1,000 or 2,000 gallons.”
A standard 18-wheel tanker hauls about 7,200 gallons of diesel.
Pogatshnik said the demand for diesel in this area increases during harvest every season.
However, Schollars said that production can’t be increased to compensate.
“We make as much (diesel) every day as possible,” he said. “We don’t make any seasonal increases or decreases.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by email at email@example.com