AOG: Warmer temps, residential conservation putting them on the right track

Max Bryan
Fort Smith Times Record
Arkansas Oklahoma Gas vehicles and equipment at the 5030 S St. facility, as seen, Wednesday, Feb. 17, in Fort Smith.

A previous version of this story incorrectly identified businesses asked to turn off their gas.  Businesses like Walmart, gas stations and grocery stores "provide human needs services" and were not asked to turn off gas.

Arkansas-Oklahoma Gas personnel hope incoming weather and conservation efforts will allow them to lift their mandate on customers in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma to either stop or reduce gas use.

Tuesday, AOG issued a notice to all major manufacturing plants and businesses that don't provide essential services in Sebastian, Crawford, LeFlore and Sequoyah counties to shut off their gas. That was in response to a gas supply shortage throughout the Midwest from increased demand in freezing temps and gas wells that have frozen during the winter weather surge.

The mandate was followed by a call for all AOG customers to turn their thermostats down to 60 degrees overnight Tuesday if it was safe for them to do so. Temps in the region are forecast to rise into the 30s on Thursday and Friday and then even higher over the weekend, which AOG spokesperson Stacie Smith said will hopefully allow the company to let its customers use gas again.

"What we have done and how everyone has responded and preserved has allowed for residentials not to be affected at this time," Smith said, adding that AOG is hopeful precautions will keep residences from being affected.

Smith said AOG was "OK" Sunday morning because of the residential conservation efforts. The mass text to AOG customers also requested they limit hot water use and keeping the thermostat low.

The company hopes warmer temperatures on Thursday and the following days will free up its gas supply.

"Our operations team is working right now to develop a plan of how we can begin turning industrial and commercial customers back on when we have the supply to do so," Smith said.

The gas shortage has affected supplies in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. One of Hanna Oil & Gas' five wells for AOG has frozen up during the winter weather, according to Hanna marketing specialist Nancy Pollan.

Pollan said the company's field technicians are working around the clock to dethaw the pipes and compressors on the company's frozen wells.

"To be clear, we purchased enough gas to meet all our customer needs and our system stands ready to serve," Smith said. "Our suppliers simply don’t have enough gas to deliver what we’ve purchased."

The gas company asks customers to conserve energy during the weather event by:

  • Keeping thermostat a few degrees lower than normal, as long as there aren't any health risks
  • Turning down water heater to 120 degrees
  • Closing dampers on unused fireplaces and keeping garage doors closed
  • Opening curtains of south-facing windows during the day and closing them at night