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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 3, 2006

Propane shutdown leads to plea for conservation

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i's propane users are being asked to conserve because of a statewide shortage as a result of a shutdown at Chevron's Campbell Industrial Park refinery.

Chevron announced yesterday that it is experiencing "operational difficulties" at the plant and is unable to produce propane. Chevron, one of three companies that supplies propane to The Gas Company, estimates that it will take 10 days to two weeks to repair the unit that produces the gas.

Chevron said in a written statement yesterday that the unit's breakdown is not expected to affect the plant's supply of other products, including gasoline, jet fuel and diesel fuel.

The Gas Company has about 67,000 customers statewide and about 39,000 of them are served by propane. The company said the shortage affects customers who are served by tank or cylinder, or by underground pipeline outside of Honolulu.

Customers who use synthetic natural gas from Hawai'i Kai to Kapolei are not affected, the company said.

To extend the propane supply, the company said it will only partially fill customers' tanks and will be moving propane between islands to allocate supplies where they are most needed. The company also said it will work with its other local supplier, Tesoro, to maximize propane production.

A shipment of propane is expected to arrive in Hawai'i March 20, The Gas Company said.

In the meantime, the company asked that customers refrain from using tiki torches, pool heaters, fireplaces and barbecues during the shortage. Customers also are urged to use backup systems for water heating and other uses.

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday asked residents to avoid "panic buying."

"All parties are working closely with the state's energy experts," Lingle said. "We believe the measures they are taking are responsible and reasonable to meet the needs of the Hawai'i market."

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.