Falling Temperatures, Falling Propane Supplies

With snow smothering the East Coast, propane stocks could be falling like your grandmother on Rollerblades. (image: nytimes.com)

‘Tis the season for dipping into the domestic propane supply.

The U.S. propane inventory follows a predictable peaks-and-valleys annual cycle. Stocks of the gas are built up in the summer, and burned up in the winter, when demand spikes. So it is a rule of the heating game: When the temperature drops, the propane supply does, too.

And we’re now getting into this season’s drawn down. At last check, the country skimmed off 3.5 million gallons for the week ending Dec. 17, according to federal data. That left 57.7 million gallons in the national tank. That’s on the lower side of the usual supply range, but a few million barrels ahead of last year.

So it will be interesting to see how the Christmas blizzard that just buried the East Coast registers on propane stocks when the new numbers come out. The East is no where near the propane consumer that the Midwest is. But with folks from the Carolinas to Manhattan hunkered down — and North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York are still solid propane customers — seems like it could be a 3 million barrel week…

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