Demand for peat briquettes in the first three months of the year was 47% higher than for the same period in 2012, according to Bord Na Móna.

The increase has forced the company to put in place a contingency plan to manage stocks evenly among 5,000 wholesalers.

Michael Coleman of the Bord Na Móna Briquettes Division told RTÉ News that the company would normally have up to 50,000 tonnes of briquettes in stock at its factories in Derrinlough, Co Offaly and Littleton, Co Tipperary.

Reserves have now been reduced significantly but the factories were both in a position to meet demands on a week to week basis.

There are a number of reasons for the reduction in stockpiled briquettes.

Bad weather last year reduced peat harvest to just 37%, the worst in the history of the company.

Higher-than-normal moisture levels in the peat used in briquette production also reduced output at factories, while a fire in the company's factory at Littleton caused a loss in production during the period of peak demand.

Bord Na Móna has now introduced a contingency plan aimed at managing current stocks and meeting a demand for briquettes which is 130% of normal.

The month of March saw an increase of 67% in the demand for stocks but the company says that while it will not be in a position to let wholesalers build up large stocks they will be able to meet demand week by week.

A number of wholesalers in the midlands have confirmed that they have been unable to receive large stock supplies of briquettes in advance and have had to contact Bord Na Móna on a day to day and week to week basis to have their supplies delivered.