Hawaiian Propane Shortage Hits Maui, Tiki Torches

Maui's tiki torches are flickering out, due to the affects of a production delay on the island. (image: Corey Miller via flickr.com)

The recent disruptions to the Hawaiian propane supply haven’t affected each of the state’s eight main islands the same. While the island of Oahu has simply been advised to conserve, some propane customers on Maui have been on a strict four-gallons-a-delivery diet.

Hawaii has faced supply concerns since Chevron shut down one of the state’s two propane refineries in December over mechanical issues. It prompted anxiety in the local industry that the gas was getting scarce. A state official tried to quiet the shortage rumors, telling a local TV station: “Let’s not do a run on toilet paper.” And propane-burning resorts reported they had ample supplies.

But not so on Maui, where the storage capacity is smaller. Hotels have been particularly affected by the shortage, the Maui News reported this weekend. Resorts use the gas to fuel tiki torches, heat swimming pools, and power laundry rooms. An AmeriGas spokesman said the shortage had affected the local market “majorly.” One dealer, Miyake Concrete, has limited customers to no more than four gallons at a time. And the Maui reserves had to be supplemented with a shipment from Seattle.

The Chevron refinery was expected to be running again last week. Though the Maui News is now saying the plant is “in the process” of restarting it, with the propane to be flowing this week.

The refinery is on the island Oahu, about 70 miles from the island of Maui. It produces gasoline and fuel oil, with a capacity for 54,000 barrels of LPG a day. Tesoro, which operates the state’s other propane refinery, can handle up to 94,000 barrels a day.

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