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Helmut Schmidt, Published October 13 2011

Truckers sit idly by waiting for diesel

WEST FARGO – Fuel tanker trucks lined up more than a mile east of the Magellan Pipeline Co. terminal Thursday as the ongoing harvest, oil exploration and rush to finish road and flood control projects before the snow flies have created a shortage of diesel fuel in the region. Burl Ingebretsen of Sabin, Minn., got in line at 5 a.m. to pick up a load of diesel for a beet farm. At that time, his truck was at 45th Street South in Fargo.

At 6 a.m., “a man came up and told me I was number 60 in line” for fuel, he said.

By 11:30, he was still a third of a mile from the terminal, and he estimated that another 40 trucks had gotten in line behind him, with some trucks queuing on the south frontage road.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and this is the longest line I’ve ever seen in Fargo or anywhere,” Ingebretsen said.

Bob Murray of Grand Forks started out for the Fargo Magellan terminal about 3:30 a.m. and was number 54 in line by the time he arrived.

“It sucks!” he said.

The terminal didn’t start pumping until 8 a.m., Murray said, and workers there had only promised 45 loads, before upping their estimate to 50 loads, as they continued to receive product, Murray said.

“Diesel is the big concern,” Murray said. “There seems to be plenty of gas.”

Ingebretsen said truckers are talking about the demand for diesel in the Oil Patch to run trucks and machinery and for fracking, a process using water and a chemical mix to get at oil locked in shale formations.

Ingebretsen said he knows a trucker from Nebraska who was called in to take loads of diesel to western North Dakota.

“They’re bringing it (diesel) in from everyplace” for the Oil Patch, Murray agreed. “They don’t care if it’s No. 1 or No. 2 (diesel). They just burn it.”

Dale Giedd of Devils Lake said the big-rig drivers talk about the inefficiencies of having their rigs in lines five or six hours a day.

“But you’ve got to go where the fuel is,” Giedd said.

Giedd said there are lots of construction projects wrapping up. He said 600 to 700 trucks are burning diesel as they build dikes around Devils Lake alone.

This is also when refineries switch from making summer fuels to winter blends. Some refineries then perform maintenance, too, lengthening shutdowns, industry experts say.

Gas prices in Fargo-Moorhead are down to $3.27 a gallon in some spots, according to fargogasprices.com. But a windshield survey Thursday found stations mostly at $3.31 to $3.39 a gallon.

Diesel was selling for about $3.75 a gallon at several Fargo locations Thursday, according to fargogasprices.com.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583