Propane Prices Flat But Stocks Post Slight Build

Clean-burning propane autogas powers millions of vehicles worldwide, is the world's third most popular vehicle fuel behind gasoline and diesel and the world's most widely used alternative vehicle fuel. (image: dicts.info)

Average residential propane prices remained relatively flat in the last week but national propane inventories posted a slight build.

Figures released yesterday by the US Energy Information Administration show propane prices ended the week 37 cents higher than at the same time last year. Wholesale propane prices were down seven cents a gallon.

The EIA launched its weekly winter heating season price check data last week. The State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP) measures average prices across 24 states and provides energy sector participants and consumers with a weekly snapshot of price movements for propane and heating oil. The season runs from October through March. Propane customers are tipped to pay an average of 7 percent more for their propane fuel than last winter.

National propane inventories posted a slight increase during the same seven-day period on the back of low propane imports, the EIA said. There are now 59.1 million barrels of propane in storage – the equivalent of 58.2 days’ supply.

At the same time last year there were 64.2 barrels in storage – the equivalent of 60.3 days’ supply at last year’s usage rates.

Propane stocks have been tracking below last years rates for several months, largely on the back of strong overseas demand for the gas because of shortages. Propane, otherwise known as liquid petroleum gas, or LPG, is used widely in many third world countries for cooking and heating. It also fuels millions of vehicles worldwide and is the world’s third most popular vehicle fuel behind gasoline and diesel.

The East Coast and Midwest regions led the charge last week, adding 400,000 barrels and 300,000 respectively. Gulf Coast regional stocks took a dive, losing 600,000 on strong demand. The Rocky Mountain/West Coast stocks were virtually unchanged.

Propylene non-fuel use inventories, which are used to make plastics, represented 6.1 percent of total propane inventories in the last week.