Kotzebue locals report fuel quality problems

Kotzebue, Alaska – The recent arrival of harsh winter weather in Kotzebue has brought temperatures down to the minus 20s and 30s (Fahrenheit), with a recorded low of -40 degrees on Sunday. This extreme cold has resulted in widespread frozen water lines across the city, impacting essential services like garbage pickup and snow removal. Additionally, concerning reports have emerged regarding the performance of home heating fuel in these frigid conditions.

Residents have indicated that fuel purchased from Vitus Energy thickens and clogs filters, causing malfunctions in heating systems and compromising home heating abilities. This is particularly concerning due to the fuel being marketed as “Arctic-grade” and intended for Alaska’s harsh winters. Notably, this follows confirmation last month by Vitus Energy CEO Mark Smith that some Bethel customers received unsuitable fuel prior to Christmas.

Currently, Kotzebue has an estimated population of around 2,938 people as of 2023. However, not all residents have been affected. At this moment in time, however, it is not known when the issues will be rectified.

While Vitus Energy has yet to comment on the Kotzebue situation, they have acknowledged on Facebook that customers experiencing cold-weather fuel issues can request additives to prevent thickening. Despite this, many residents remain without adequate heating in the midst of extreme temperatures.