Propane Stocks Increase But Still Below Last Year

Propane stocks posted a large build in the last week but are still tracking below last year's levels. (image:

Propane stocks posted another large build in the last week but the US Energy Department says inventories remain 11 percent lower than this time last year.

National propane stocks added two million barrels in the week ending July 15. There are now 46.6 million barrels in storage – the equivalent of 68.7 days’ supply.

At the same time a year ago there were 5.9 million more barrels of propane in storage but national inventories were only sufficient to supply 62.9 days’ gas demand.

The apparent contradiction in inventory figures versus days’ supply reflects the way propane reserve stock is measured by the Energy Information Administration. Supply is calculated by measuring national propane stocks against the last four weeks’ average demand. If demand has been high, you’ll have proportionally less supply in storage.

Issuing its weekly inventory statistics yesterday, the EIA said propane stocks had hovered near the lowest average range since the end of the heating season in March. Propane inventories have been tracking below last year’s levels this summer following a cold spring and heavy export demand from overseas.

Last week’s big increase was led by the Gulf Coast region, which added 1.7 million barrels of new inventory. The Midwest region gained one million barrels, and the Rocky Mountain/West Coast region added 100,000 barrels.

But in a surprise revelation, the East Coast regional propane inventories actually slumped by 800,000 barrels in the last week on strong demand. Whether that was led by overseas exports or heavy usage of propane-powered air conditioning units because of hot conditions remains unclear.

US propane reserves have now grown by 20.2 million barrels in the last 14 weeks.