The 2013-14 winter has forced the propane industry to take its preparedness level up a notch. That winter remains in the back of the industry’s mind, with many wondering whether that “perfect storm” will rear its ugly head again.
That year, fall crop drying demand, cold temperatures (i.e. the polar vortex) and U.S. propane exports played a collective part in product distribution challenges in the retail market and regional price spikes.
Prior to this winter, the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) Propane Supply & Logistics Committee requested a paper outlining a key set of components that would help the industry prepare for and respond to supply and distribution disruptions.
NPGA says it often found itself playing catch-up during that winter of three years ago, having to make important decisions on the fly.
“With this experience, we can set up a game plan for winter preparedness and response to ensure our relationships are in place and our decisions are better and timelier,” it says in the paper.
Now, the association believes it has a better handle this year compared to previous years on supply and infrastructure changes and their potential impact on propane deliverability. It developed a propane marketer supply planning guide, a monthly inventory trends analysis and has reconstituted a supply and infrastructure task force to keep staff and stakeholders abreast on developments during the current winter heating season.
The new paper goes in-depth on the existing agencies and policies that can serve as valuable resources and aids for the industry amid winter supply difficulties. The paper underscores the need to educate and motivate state and federal agencies. These agencies would be inclined to act on behalf of the industry, NPGA believes, if only they know the details of a dire situation.