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The polar "bear": why are US propane prices struggling despite record cold?

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10 January 2018

The polar "bear": why are US propane prices struggling despite record cold?

Report summary

The brutally cold weather that enveloped North America recently was so extraordinary that it seemed to be scripted by the Weather Channel.  Parts of Canada were colder than Mars, wind chills hit minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit in New Hampshire, and the term "bomb cyclone" sounded like something in a bad science fiction movie.  Even though the week ending 5 January 2018 was the coldest propane-weighted week this century, propane prices at the Conway and Mont Belvieu hubs have been unable to break the $1/gal threshold and have eroded in value versus crude oil and naphtha.  This is a sharp contrast from the 2013/2014 "Polar Vortex", when Conway prices neared $5/gal and the FERC forced pipeline companies to prioritise propane shipments.  The attached PDF explains why feedstock switching, surging propane production, and elastic export demand has tamed propane prices in the face of record cold.

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  • The polar "bear": why are US propane prices struggling despite record cold?

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    The polar bear - Why are US propane prices struggling despite record cold.pdf

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