Good news and hope

January 1, 2004 By    

Good news and reason for optimism to start the New Year: The American Petroleum Institute reports a healthy increase in propane sales in 2002 despite several daunting obstacles.

API says national retail sales of propane, including chemical uses, hit 19.9 billion gallons in 2002. That’s a 10.2 percent (1.8 billion gallons) growth over 2001. If you back out the chemical use, national sales grew 4.5 percent (535.1 million gallons) to 11.9 billion gallons.

That’s flat-out impressive for a year hobbled by a deep, lingering recession, nasty price spikes and a warm winter heating season.

It also bodes well for sales in 2004 and beyond, especially if the national indicators pointing to an economic recovery prove accurate.

Significantly, this year should show measured results from the consumer advertising campaign that now commands half of the Propane Education & Research Council’s beefed-up $50 million budget.

There also are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake for marketers and consumers in the national energy bill that stalled before lawmakers adjourn-ed for 2003. Republican leadership promises that the bill will be the first priority out of the gate in 2004, but the campaign leading up to next fall’s presidential election could make it a year-long political football.

Now in its 17th year, the API annual report estimates NGL and liquefied refinery gas sales, not consumption. The survey is jointly sponsored by API, Gas Processors Association, PERC and the National Propane Gas Association.

Before the 1998, its purpose was to help the industry track trends in propane sales by end use on a national and regional basis. With the advent of PERC and its requirement to rebate 20 percent of assessment dollars back to the states, however, the importance of accurately tracking results on a state level has increased.

To improve accuracy for retail sales on a state level, the survey mailing list was substantially expanded by including small independent retailers. In past years the survey went only to multi-state and larger independent retailers.

Here are the top propane retail sales for residential, commercial, engine, farm and industrial uses in 2002:

1) Michigan (940.2 million gallons)

2) Texas (854.0 million)

3) North Carolina (574.6 million)

4) Missouri (565.1 million)

5) Wisconsin (549.8 million)

6) Minnesota (505.1 million)

7) Ohio (455.9 million)

8) Illinois (453.9 million)

9) Iowa (451.0 million)

10) California (415.9 million)

11) Indiana (385.7 million)

12) New York (348.2 million)

13) Pennsylvania (319.0 million)

14) Georgia (312.0 million)

15) Florida (276.6 million)

16) Tennessee (260.9 million)

17) Alabama (251.1 million)

18) Virginia (244.5 million)

19) Washington (222.5 million)

20) Nebraska (220.9 million)

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