Increased demand leads Hawaiian company to make gain in storage capacity

September 21, 2012 By    

A propane provider in Hawaii known as The Gas Company has experienced a 25 percent boost in capacity by adding 180,000 gallons of storage on the island of Maui.

“The demand for propane in Hawaii has increased over the past 10 years,” says Joseph J. Boivin Jr., the company’s senior vice president of external affairs, attributing the rise to an expanding customer base and larger loads being drawn by existing accounts.

“The Hawaiian Islands are heavily dependent on tourism, so a lot of our customers are hotels and restaurants,” he adds. LP gas is used for cooking, refrigeration, laundry services, air conditioning, heated pools, hot tubs and even the ubiquitous tiki torches that grace vacationers’ luaus.

Because the Aloha State has no natural gas, propane is a prime fuel source for homeowners, as well. It beats the price of electricity and is an attractive alternative to diesel because it overcomes the environmental issues of foul odors and harmful emissions.

“There is a significant cost advantage to using propane,” Boivin says, adding that the company is in the process of rebranding itself as “Hawaii Gas” to further enhance its marketing potential.

The company also plans to increase propane storage capacity on the islands of Oahu, Hawaii and Kauai.

The recent initiative on Maui consists of six 30,000-gallon tanks being installed to augment the existing facility. “We have an extra week’s worth of supply,” says Boivin, adding that “this will allow us to bring in a larger-sized tanker” for replenishment.

A limited refinery presence in the state presents unwanted customer service challenges when outages occur, and the company is loathe to ask its clients to institute cutbacks in settings aimed at pleasing people who are on long-awaited vacations.

When a refinery goes down, “you have a time lag” before any new shiploads of propane can be brought in.

“It’s a risk to doing business when you’re out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” Boivin says. “You really have to manage these things carefully.”

Purchased from other nations off the high seas, The Gas Company imports six to 12 tanker loads each year. Two 500,000-gallon barges are used to transport the propane among the various other islands.

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