National Propane Price Check: +1 Cent and Another Record High

Twilight over the town of Mont Belvieu, Texas, home to a major propane hub. (image: Riccardo Velez via flickr.com)

The new numbers are out, and here’s our take: not great and not really a surprise after a week of nasty weather.

The average retail price for a gallon of propane went up a penny last week, according to federal data. Pretty small, but that sets a new record high for residential propane — or more accurately makes it eight record highs in eight weeks. The increases came from the East Coast, where the average gallon price ticked up a penny and a half; the Midwest was perfectly flat.

Put on your optimist’s glasses and there’s a thing or two to like. The increase — which was actually nine-tenths of a penny when we get right down to it — is the smallest rise this heating season. In addition, the average price for a gallon of wholesale propane dropped almost a penny and a half, making it three straight weeks of declines. So there’s room for the retail side to soften, too.

Now take those silly glasses off. This inscrutable winter, with its what’s-that-on-the-radar?! weekly weather patterns, looks like it’s going to keep pressure on the market till our first big thaw. And we are also very interested to see how the fire in Mont Belvieu registers on the midstream and the retailers in the coming days. About 24 hours later, physical damages seem limited to a single gas processing plant, but the incident could ripple wider in the coming days.

So let’s see where that puts us on Friday.

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