It’s been an unsettling week.
Propane prices at the major Texas hub have ticked higher and higher, seemingly in reaction to a fire at a Mont Belvieu storage facility that happened last week. That left us puzzling over the lag, and checking the national inventory level — which is on the low side — to guess at what’s in store. The situation could look grim, if it weren’t for the warm front that just moved across the middle of the country, melting some stubborn snow banks here in Manhattan and giving thermostats a long-awaited rest.
So it would be comforting to end the week with a good sign from Nebraska, the Midwest’s low-cost propane king and our favorite barometer for pricing trends in the region. Instead, the news is neutral: the average retail price for a gallon of propane went up two-tenths of a penny, according to today’s report from the state energy office. Per the rules of grade school arithmetic, we will round that down to zero and call it even, but it’s not an ideal report for customers. Retail propane in the Cornhusker State hit an inflection point last week, posting its first decline since November. And this week’s increase, even a teensy one, saps the downward momentum.
But sure as sugar on a funnel cake, even with the small bump, Nebraska holds onto its crown as the low-cost propane king of the country.
We will hold off on any grand pronouncements about what propane could do next week. We’re still figuring out this week.