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Understanding the Propane Shortage

Posted on February 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM by Iowa Corn

Propane prices have spiked as domestic demand has increased and domestic supply has been decimated by lingering cold weather and significant infrastructure issues.
Propane_Shortage_Iowa_Energy Information Administration

We are seeing limited media stories blaming this on ethanol. Here’s why that’s not the case.

First of all, the assertion is made that much more propane was used to dry corn after the late 2013 harvest. The problem is, there was a significant reduction in propane inventory before this even took place.

Propane/propylene inventory, millions of barrels

First Week of …                    2012                       2013                       % Change
June                                        57.9                        49.7                        - 14%
July                                         63.2                        57.4                        - 9%
August                                    68.1                        61.8                         - 9%       
September                              72.7                          64.5                        -  11%
October                                  75.9                          66.5                        - 12%
November                              73.6                         62.1                         - 16%
December                               71.2                         52.6                         - 26%
January (2013-2014)             65.6                         42.4                         - 35%
February (2013-2014)          54.9                         27.9                          - 49%

The real cause of this problem is not the use of propane to dry a large corn crop late in the season, but numerous transportation issues, some causes by the cold weather itself. One of the biggest reasons cited is the fact that the Cochin Pipeline, which carries propane to the Midwest from Canada, was shut for maintenance from late November to late December. This pipeline provides 40 percent of Minnesota’s propane.

Worse news for propane consumers: This pipeline will be reversed to deliver light condensate to Canada from Illinois, as early as July 2014, which could cause a repeat propane issue next winter in the Northern Corn Belt. “That will be next year’s catastrophe,”  a spokesman for the Propane Gas Association of New England told the news media.

In addition, U.S. exports of propane have seen a dramatic increase in the past year. According to the U.S. Energy InformationAdministration, exports of propane began in 2012 and by January 2013 were at 168,000 barrels per day. By October, exports had jumped to 408,000 barrels per day.

Information and updates from the U.S. Energy InformationAdministration:

So, we have plenty of propane, but the companies here in the US that benefit from laws in the US, would rather sell it overseas. I see.Marlene<a href="" rel="nofollow">Info site for Auto Repair Kent Website</a>
Marlene Detierro | | 02/18/2016 at 08:24 PM
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