Fuel delivery via
truck, ship, and even a
By Vanessa Orr
While many Alaskans are day- dreaming of warmer days ahead, those who deliver fuel to the state’s
residents remain knee-deep winter work until temperatures rise regardless of the calendar date. Trying to keep customers warm and
companies running in temperatures that can
sometimes reach 50 below is challenging—
especially in a business in which margins are
small and competition fierce.
“We fuel Alaska, whether a customer uses
one hundred gallons a year or millions of gallons a year,” explains Jasper Hall, vice president of Crowley Fuels, which has been serving
the state since 1953. “Our customers are both
residential and commercial and include construction, mining, fishing, logging, aviation,
utilities, retail fueling stations, and the federal, state, and local government. And we serve
them regardless of size or requirements.”
Where Does the Fuel Come From?
A family-owned business, Crowley oper-
ates out of offices in twenty-one Alaska cities
from Kotzebue to Ketchikan to Hooper Bay.
“Historically, we look at markets as either
highway-served or marine-served,” says Hall.
“Cities, towns, and villages on the road sys-
tem are served by our linehaul fleet, which in-
cludes 35 power units and roughly 200 pieces
of equipment including trailers. We use the
highway system to transport fuel from the
three refineries in the state to serve Anchor-
age, Fairbanks, and all points in between.”
In southcentral Alaska, for example,
Crowley transports fuel from Petro Star
and Tesoro terminals in Anchorage to ar-
eas including Palmer and Wasilla, where it
is stored in terminals for use by smaller end
users served by the company’s local delivery
fleet of about ninety trucks. Southeast cities
are slightly different, as their fuel supply is
transported over water to local terminals.
Delta Western, which provides jet fuel,
diesel, heating oil, and aviation gas to Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and
Sitka, buys fuel at truck racks or in Kenai or
Valdez to serve Anchorage and Fairbanks.
“For our other locations, particularly southeast, we pull from the Pacific Northwest and
transport fuel via barge,” says Kirk Payne,
vice president of supply and terminals.
Petro Star is a little different from other
fuel delivery services in that it both produces
and distributes its own fuel. “From its beginnings in North Pole with only one small
refinery, Petro Star and ASRC [its parent
company] understood that vertical integration—being able to deliver and sell its own
products directly to consumers—was key to
its success,” explains Doug Chapados, president and CEO of Petro Star Inc. “Through
its thirty-four-year history, Petro Star has
grown via vertical integration and acquisition, expanding sales and operations into the
Aleutians, Kodiak, and southcentral Alaska
through its marine distribution division,
North Pacific Fuel, as well as its Interior heating oil division, Sourdough Fuel.”
Most of Petro Star’s fuel sales are produced
at its North Pole and Valdez refineries, and it
delivers fuel to residential, commercial, and
Most of Petro
Star’s fuel sales
are produced at
its North Pole and
and it delivers
fuel to residential,
via pipeline, barge,
and truck. Here a fuel
barge loads in Valdez.
Image courtey of
Petro Star, Inc.