NPGA Leaders Rally Industry During Fall Meetings

The propane industry faces a clear and present danger from those who want to ban the use of fossil fuels, but it also has an opportunity to grow by positioning propane as a source of clean energy. Members of the industry can make a difference by becoming advocates and teaching the people around them about the many benefits of this abundant, affordable, domestic fuel.

National Propane Gas Association Fall Board Meeting introduces three new initiatives to deter efforts to ban fossil fuels reports BPN LPG industry's trusted source for news since 1939. Those messages were heard throughout the NPGA fall board of directors meeting and related committee meetings held Sept. 29 through Oct. 1. Among those rallying the industry were the association’s chairman, its current president and CEO, and his successor, who is scheduled to take the helm Oct. 28. They each addressed participants at the Oct. 1 board of directors meeting.

First up was Randy Thompson, chairman of NPGA and a founder and senior advisor at ThompsonGas LLC. He said the pervasive messages that propane is a fossil fuel and that all fossil fuels should be eliminated are a clear and present danger. He added that “electrify everything” is unrealistic, and those who want to eliminate fossil fuels are uninformed.

“We need to deliver a cohesive and unified message to our many constituents,” he said. He explained that the industry needs to promote that propane is the cleanest fuel available to combat environmental issues; that there is more propane in the U.S. than anywhere else; and that propane is the best engine fuel available right here and now. Thompson referred to his previously announced goal of growing the industry by 4 billion gallons in five years and said the goal is achievable.

“There is fear of putting this kind of goal in front of us. But it is measurable; it is actionable; and it is realistic. It holds leaders accountable,” he said. “This is what I refer to as vision casting. But the real key to exponential growth is execution of the plan.”

When Thompson took the helm of ThompsonGas, it operated one location with 1.2 million gallons and eight employees. Now the company employs 800-plus people and operates in 20 states with 100 locations selling more than 100 million gallons.

In order to achieve his 4-billion-gallon growth challenge, Thompson believes the industry needs to gain control of the narrative and differentiate propane from other fuel sources. He concluded, “We must meet fossil fuel opposition with a good dose of education and robust public relations outreach.”

“A FUTURE OF GROWTH”
Next, Rick Roldan delivered the president’s report. Roldan is transitioning out of his position after 25 years with the association and 18 years as its president and CEO. “In my last report as president, I want to share some words to my successor,” he began. “We have spent two days talking about the headwinds facing this industry; I want to talk about the opportunities.”

Roldan noted that the propane industry has been around for 106 years and has proven to be adaptive. He pointed out that propane was first used for home lighting, was then used to fuel airships, and then became widely used for home heating and home cooking. Today, he added, its applications are expanding from burner tips to fuel injectors.

“This is a fantastic product,” he said. “It is clean, green, and American-made. It is part of what moved this country to energy dominance.”

Addressing his successor, Roldan concluded, “The people employed in this industry are the best that America has to offer. They have deep roots in their communities. They are willing to engage any time you ask them to. You are not alone. You will lead us to a future of growth and opportunity.”

In a special presentation following the president’s report, Thompson returned to the podium and announced that a scholarship would be awarded and named in Roldan’s honor, in perpetuity. The scholarship is already funded, and Roldan is invited to be involved in it.
Natl propane Gas Assoc Fall 2019 Board Meeting Rallies LPG industry to promote clean fuel propane rpts BPN 11-2019
“HOME RUN SWINGS”
The incoming president and CEO of NPGA, Stephen Kaminski, was then introduced. His appointment had been announced in a press release a week earlier. In the days preceding the Oct. 1 board of directors meeting, he had sat in on the related committee meetings, listening to the discussions and asking questions.

After being formally introduced at the board of directors meeting, Kaminski noted that he has degrees in chemical engineering and law and that his background includes federal and state advocacy; regulations; working on codes and standards; managing associations; communications; operations; and developing new programs and tools for members.

“I am particularly proud of providing leadership in turnaround conditions in industries I work for,” he said. Noting that he is new to propane, Kaminski said he will be asking a lot of questions. He said he will have a change mentality and a growth mentality and looks forward to hearing members’ thoughts on his suggestions. He also said that throughout his career he has had a history of not only playing defense, but also playing offense.

“We have challenges and we need to be aggressive,” Kaminski concluded. “We need to take home run swings if we are going to win. We need to recognize the role propane plays in providing green energy for all Americans. I am humbled by your faith in me and I look forward to serving all of you and driving home the success this industry needs. Collectively, we can take propane where we need to go. I am excited by what we will accomplish.”

THREE NEW TOOLS ANNOUNCED
In other news, during meetings held over the three-day event, NPGA staff made presentations about three new tools that have recently been introduced.

PropanePAC Website: Here, NPGA members can learn about the association’s political action committee (PAC), the candidates it supports, and the reasons it supports them. “We need to make sure our members who are not at these committee meetings can become involved, so we need to take the PAC to them,” Peter Ferrell, director, political and industry affairs, said. “This new tool will help us share the PAC’s goals and why we need these essential personal contributions.” The PropanePAC website is at npga.org/organization/propanepac/.

Congressional Contact Form: With this new advocacy tool, NPGA members can inform the association staff about any personal connections they have with legislators. The idea is that when staff wants to meet a legislator, they can ask a member to make an introduction. “If you know folks, let us know; it will help our advocacy efforts to have a greater impact,” Michael Baker, director, legislative affairs, explained. The Congressional Contact Form is available at npga.org/propane-days-365/.

Propane Logistics Analysis Network (PLAN): This crowdsourced online tool allows users to view and share the wait times at propane supply points. As this was written, there were more than 400 supply points listed. (See details on p. 33.) PLAN is available through an update to the NPGAction app and online at https://plan.npga.org.
— Steve Relyea

Propane Supply Update: A Well-Supplied Situation Heading Into Winter

(November 12, 2019) — Heading into winter, the industry is in a well-supplied situation. The recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities had no long-term effect and the current supply situation in the U.S. and in each PADD is within recent norms.
Fall 2019 Propane Supply outlook by the propane industry's most trusted source for news since 1939 Butane-Propane News BPN
So said Darryl Rogers, vice president, midstream oil and NGL at IHS Markit, who presented a U.S. Propane Market Outlook Sept. 29 during the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) 2019 fall board of directors meetings.

Rogers delivered his presentation 15 days after the Sept. 14 attacks in Saudi Arabia. In it, he looked at the Saudi oil situation and its implications to U.S. propane. He also displayed a history and forecast of five factors that affect the U.S. propane market.

No Long-Term Effects
The Sept. 14 attacks targeted Abqaiq, the world’s largest oil processing facility, and Khurais, Saudi Arabia’s second largest oil field. The initial production loss at the two facilities was 5.7 MMbbld. Abqaiq had a processing capacity of 6 MMbbld to 7 MMbbld and was operating at a rate of 4.5 MMbbld before the attacks. Khurais had a capacity of 1.5 MMbbld and was operating at a rate of 1.2 MMbbld before the attacks.

At the time of Rogers’ presentation, repairs were underway and official estimates were that there would be no reduction of flows of crude to customers.

“Unlike past disruptions, there are now significant supplies and reserves, and a different economic situation,” Rogers told those attending the meeting of NPGA’s propane supply and logistics committee.

The impact to NGL production, based on crude oil wellhead production and IHS Markit’s assessment of the impacted facilities and overall capabilities, was expected to be a loss of 305,000 bbld in September and possibly 208,000 bbld in October depending on the expected timing of a full recovery. The October NGL production impact could be even lower if production ramps up from other supply sources within Saudi Arabia.
Fall 2019 Propane Supply Forecast by BPN the propane industry's most trusted source for news since 1939. Nov 2019
“From an NGL perspective, the Saudis say they will ramp up production outside the affected areas,” Rogers explained.

Other production streams/facilities and inventory draws have been offsetting production losses and working toward meeting all export obligations.

In the days immediately after the attacks, Brent oil spiked, as did Mont Belvieu, Middle East, and Far East propane to Brent price ratio. However, the propane market is global, and the Mont Belvieu price after the attacks has been less affected because there are other market factors applying downward pressure on prices. These U.S. market factors include ample storage and U.S. LPG capacity constraints.

Summing up, Rogers said, “How will this affect the price in the U.S.? Overall, there will be some small changes, but nothing long term.”


A Well-Supplied Situation
In the second half of his presentation, Rogers looked at the history and forecast for five factors that affect the U.S. propane market: absolute inventory, days of forward demand, field production, domestic demand, and exports. These data were given for the U.S. as a whole and for each of the five PADDs.

In a series of slides, Rogers presented graphs showing the historical data from 2014 through the present as well as forecast data through March 2020.

“We are in a well-supplied situation through 2020, but there are some pockets we need to watch,” Rogers said. “The U.S. is well supplied, but the PADD level could deviate.”
Fall propane Supply outlook by BPN the LPG industry trusted source for news since 1939. experts predict propane supply levels for 2019 winter Nov. 2019
The areas of possible concern are in PADD 2, the Midwest. There, days of forward demand seems well supplied, but in certain scenarios could be lower than expected. Should that be the case, though, it would not be significantly lower than what has been seen historically, Rogers explained. In addition, PADD 2 field production expectation is relatively high, but if it’s not, inventory will be lower than expected.

“That is the only PADD with a higher level of uncertainty as we look from today through the current inventory cycle ending in March 2020,” Rogers said. “It is the only PADD with a slight risk, when we compare today to history.”

The only other forecast that is different from what has been seen in recent years is in PADD 1, the East Coast. There, the days of forward demand is higher than normal. “PADD 1 is extremely oversupplied,” Rogers noted.

“The other PADDs are within historical trends; we don’t see any anomalies,” he concluded.

More Granular Data
The breakdown by PADD was a first for the supply updates presented by representatives of IHS Markit at NPGA board of directors meetings; previous presentations gave figures for the U.S. as a whole. This offering of more granular data is meant to help provide members of the industry with the level of detail that matters to them.
Fall 2019 LPG well-stocked Supply for world LPG forecast by BPN the propane industry's most trusted source for news since 1939. Nov 2019
Rogers welcomes feedback on this and other aspects of the supply updates provided to NPGA members by IHS Markit: “We want to hear from members what information they need to be prepared for uncertainty at the PADD level.”

Rogers may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He also invites BPN readers to email him to receive a free brochure and sample report from IHS Markit’s U.S. NGL Markets Weekly service. The report includes market analysis, supply, demand, and pricing information. For more information about IHS Markit, visit ihsmarkit.com. — Steve Relyea

Safety Advisory Issued For Unapproved Foreign-Made DOT Cylinders

Compressed Gas Assoc issued Safety Regulatory alert nov 1, 2019 regarding counterfeit propane cylinders from thailand reports the propane industry's trusted source for news since 1939. (November 11, 2019) — The Compressed Gas Association (CGA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) recently issued a Safety Advisory Notice to inform the public, industrial gas stakeholders, and relevant government officials, of the risks associated with requalifying, filling, and transporting cylinders bearing the DOT specification markings ‘‘DOT 4E’’ or ‘‘DOT 4BA’’ that were produced by a company located in Thailand by the name of Metal Mate. Metal Mate does NOT have an approval from PHMSA to manufacture cylinders to DOT specifications; therefore, cylinders marked with the Metal Mate name are not DOT specification cylinders.

These cylinders must NOT be used to transport hazardous materials in commerce to, from, or within the United States, or on a United States-registered aircraft. These cylinders may not perform to the marked DOT performance standard and may not be safe for commercial transportation or consumer use.

A copy of this Safety Advisory Notice can be found in the Federal Register on pages 58829-58830. The RA-220 is available on CGA’s website at: https://www.cganet.com/member/Document/Details.aspx?id=12753
 
Contact Jill Thompson at the Compressed Gas Association, Inc., via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone 703-788-2720, with questions.

Connecticut BantamWesson Merges With Arbor Energy

(Novemver 7, 2019) — Cetane Associates and Gray, Gray & Gray have announced that BantamWesson of Waterbury, CT has merged with Arbor Energy of Cheshire, CT.  Both BantamWesson and Arbor Energy are full-service propane and heating oil companies that provide HVAC services and diversified home solutions. 


arbor energy merges with bantam wesson reports bpn propane industry trusted source for news since 1939 112019 logo
“The hard work, guidance and direction provided by Gray, Gray & Gray and Cetane Associates were invaluable in helping with the Arbor Energy merger,” said Craig Snyder, CEO of BantamWesson. 

“This is the first of what we hope to be many mergers the company will engage in.  As a company we are offering an alternative for owners who want to strengthen their business for both a financial return and an increase in value of their assets. Arbor is the perfect choice to join with us as they bring senior management experience to strengthen our combined team and they have a great reputation serving a similar market.”


BantamWesson merges with arbor energy reports BPN propane industry's trusted source for news since 1939. 11072019
Gray, Gray & Gray is a premier accounting and business advisory firm serving the nation's retail energy and delivered fuels industry. The firm provides oil and propane retailers and distributors with targeted accounting, consulting, and tax advisory services designed to help build more profitable and efficient operations.



Cetane Associates, LLC is a leading provider of Merger and Acquisition advisory services to the retail energy marketing industry.  Cetane specializes in buy and sell side transactions as well as transition planning and business valuations.

Ehrhart Energy Acquired By Energy Distribution Partners

(November 7, 2019) — Ehrhart Energy, which serves propane and light oils customers in and around Trumansburg, New York, with a satellite operation in Ithaca, was recently acquired by Energy Distribution Partners (“EDP”), based in Chicago, Illinois. Ehrhart Energy serves nearly 7,000 customers in eight New York counties.

Ehrhart Energy acquired by Energy Dist partners reports BPN propane industrys trusted news source since 1939 112019Ehrhart Energy was established in 1949 and has remained in the Ehrhart family. In 1978, family members Tom and Kathleen Overbaugh joined the company eventually purchasing the business. In recent years their children, Bill Overbaugh and Tracy Kirkman, have managed the business.

Ehrhart Energy has an excellent reputation within the local community as a full service provider delivering propane, light fuels and renewable energy products including bulk wood pellets and Bioheat Fuel®. The company is also well respected throughout the industry with the Overbaughs being active in both state and national propane industry associations.

According to Tom Overbaugh, “As Kathleen and I began to plan for our retirement, we wanted to be sure our valued employees and longtime customers would be well cared for. I’ve known the team at EDP for many years and knew I could count on them to not only take care of our employees and our customers but also continue to support our local community. I am confident that Ehrhart Energy is in good hands with EDP as the new owner.”

Tom Knauff, Energy Distribution Partner’s CEO commented, “We are extremely pleased to welcome the Ehrhart team to EDP along with Bill Overbaugh continuing in his role as General Manager. The Company has an exceptional reputation throughout its service area and we look forward to continuing to provide safe, reliable service to its customers for many years to come. We are also committed to remaining active members of the local community.”

About Energy Distribution Partners
Energy Distribution Partners is a rapidly-growing company in America's fast-changing energy landscape – with deep experience in retail and commercial propane sales, operations and finance. The company provides safe, reliable propane service to residential and commercial customers in California, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York. Energy Distribution Partners pursues a long-term strategy of purchasing successful operations in propane and other fuels and in the midstream energy sector, retaining the brand name, preserving local management and delegating to leaders in local communities.

This is EDP’s 26th transaction. The company is actively seeking partners for growth. For more information, please visit www.edplp.net.