Mid-Month to Mid-Month: May Nudges Propane Prices Upward

Nearly half of global demand for butane and propane comes from the residential and commercial sectors, with more than one-third of the supply of these fuels being sourced from oil refineries, according to Btu, writes Natural Gas Daily. But, following a sharp drop in crude oil demand tied to the coronavirus pandemic, refinery runs have dwindled and, by extension, so has production of butane and propane. Unlike oil, though, demand persists for the NGLs and is supporting prices.

Mid-April found the average posted price at Mont Belvieu at 43.173 cents/gal., off minimally from a month earlier’s 43.340 cents, and 28.750 cents below the price a year earlier. The following week the posting rose less than a half-cent to 43.507 cents, and the final price for April was also a half-cent higher at 44.007 cents. May’s price eased up a bit higher to 45.590 cents per gal., and gained strength to 49.340 cents.

Conway, Kan. posted prices added about 4 cents/gal. from a month earlier, bringing them back into the 40-cent range at 40.246 cents. In fact, compared to a year earlier, current prices are about 20 cents/gal. below the 2019 posted prices. The following week, the price held steady, strengthening slightly to 40.920 cents, and then finished the month with another slight move to 41.120 cents. The first of May saw a 3.45-cent addition to 44.570 cents, then a another 4.35 cent gain to 48.920 cents.
NL BigGraph May 300 Propane prices pushing upward reports Weekly Propane Newsletter 051420
(click image to enlarge chart)

Mont Belvieu spot propane entered the period at 33.875-34.625 cents/gal., down less than 1 cent from a month prior but down a staggering 26.50 cents from a year earlier. Further into April, trading exhibited a new pattern, rising to 36.50-36.875 cents and then back down to 33.375-33.625 cents to end April. May began with the similar gain, rising back to 36.875-37.25 cents, only to end the period with a jump to 40.375-41.00 cents/gal.

Conway spots opened the new report at 33.75-35.00 cents, a bit more than a nickel higher than a month earlier but off a strong 21 cents from a year earlier. Offers rose 2.50 cents the following week to 36.25-37.50 cents, and then plateaued at 35.125-36.00 cents to end the month. May began with a solid gain that boosted it to 40.00-41.25 cents. Mid-month saw prices rise again to 44.00-44.625 cents.

SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, May 14, 2020. Weekly Propane Newsletter subscribers receive all the latest posted and spot prices from major terminals and refineries around the U.S. delivered to inboxes every week. Receive a center spread of posted prices with hundreds of postings updated each week, along with market analysis, insightful commentary, and much more not found elsewhere.