Lynn Ascrizzi is cautious.

She called her heating oil dealer on Monday to try to get her Freedom home’s half-full tank topped off amid a cold snap because she “didn’t want to get stuck” on empty.

But she was told by M.A. Haskell Fuel Co. in South China that she’d have to wait a week.

“I’m surprised that it would take so long,” Ascrizzi said.

Reports of delays are isolated across Maine, with a top state official saying that while Maine’s energy delivery system is “performing well,” there have been some delays in eastern Maine because of a tight kerosene market.

Delays might be expected in such a cold February. In Augusta, the average daily high temperature has been 16 degrees this month with more than 40 inches of snow falling in many parts of Maine since a large storm near January’s end that has led to snowdrifts as high as 8 feet in some places.

Bill Peebles, Haskell’s general manager, said his company is about a week behind on deliveries because of supply problems, among them a recent lack of kerosene available from their supplier, New Brunswick-based Irving Oil, one of the region’s largest distributors of heating oil.

In a statement, Samantha Robinson, a spokeswoman for Irving, said that “as a result of extreme weather conditions over recent weeks, some sites may have experienced delivery delays due to unsafe travel conditions” and that the company is working to serve customers “without interruption.”

“I’m not sure where the bottleneck lies, but the issue for us is not being able to get it locally as fast as we should,” Peebles said.

Patrick Woodcock, director of Gov. Paul LePage’s energy office, said there’s no widespread problem with energy delivery statewide. He said eastern Maine has experienced some interruptions with kerosene, but oil remains well-supplied across Maine.

“The delivery system of energy products has been performing well,” he said. “There have been some limited instances of interruptions, but we monitor this very closely, and these are very localized events, and hopefully some improvements in weather will provide some relief.”

Some dealers report no problems. Marc Lacasse, general manager of Augusta Fuel Co., said his firm is in “pretty good shape” on deliveries. Mike Levenseller, the central Maine area manager for Dead River Co., said in his area, drivers are current with all customers signed up for automatic delivery. However, people scheduling deliveries might wait a week, but that’s typical for many in rural areas, he said.

At Chapman Oil in Gardiner, secretary Angela Anderson said drivers are busy with customers calling in for deliveries, running only slightly behind because of demand.

“Two-day runs turn into four days to get them done because of all the call-ins,” Anderson said.

One company in perhaps Maine’s hardest-hit area Down East has “made the best of a bad situation,” said Mike Tammaro, general manager of V.L. Tammaro Oil Co. in Baileyville. A Sunday storm that hit that area and parts of York County dropped more than 2 feet of snow in Washington County’s easternmost area, which is Tammaro’s service area.

Tammaro said there have been problems with Irving’s kerosene supply, but they have been solved and his workers aren’t behind. He said he has hired young relatives of his regular employees to accompany drivers with shovels to get to tanks obscured by a thick snow cover, a move he said has “worked out great for morale.”

“Everybody’s having a good rapport, and it’s keeping everybody in good spirits,” he said.

Then he asked some workers in the office who had just returned from fuel runs whether they were, indeed, in good spirits.

“Oh, yeah,” they said.

“See? They’re in good spirits,” Tammaro said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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