NPGA, members respond to propane supply gridlock

February 6, 2014 By    

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) launched a three-week plan designed to address propane supply challenges that have gripped parts of the country and drawn scrutiny from consumers and the media.

Rick Roldan, president and CEO of NPGA, announced several steps the association is taking in the near term to move propane to where it’s needed most.

The Midwest tops that list, as inventories in the region fell to 8.8 million barrels as of Jan. 24 after beginning October with more than 24 million barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

“The most acute situation is in the Midwest,” said Roldan, echoing concerns among members that supplies at the Conway, Kan., storage hub were approaching dangerously low levels.

NPGA and its members have been in communication with federal agencies and midstream energy companies about easing transportation restrictions and prioritizing propane shipments into the Midwest.

“We are working with the pipelines to expedite additional barrels and to markets where we really need them,” said Tom Van Buren, vice president of supply and wholesale for Ferrell North America.

An EIA report Wednesday showed Midwest propane inventories rising 0.8 million barrels, to 9.6 million, last week. Total U.S. stocks stand at about 31 million barrels, which is about 44 percent lower than a year ago.

In other developments, regional hours-of-service exemptions for commercial truck drivers in the East, Midwest, South and West were extended through March 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced. And the state of Texas has extended its permitting waiver through Feb. 18, allowing propane shipments to states in need.

Propane exports, which have risen to record levels in the last year, were discussed at NPGA’s board meeting early this week in Clearwater Beach, Fla. Roldan said the federal government is being briefed on the possibility of limiting waterborne shipments to foreign countries.

Roldan also said it’s important for the industry to remain calm and not nationalize the propane supply situation.

“There are places where 6 million of our customers are being served like they always have,” he said.

The NPGA has set up a supply and infrastructure task force to examine the events that have transpired this winter, including severe price spikes that have coincided with the regional shortages. Van Buren will lead the group.

Photo: NPGA

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

3 Comments on "NPGA, members respond to propane supply gridlock"

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  1. DUGGER RIMMER says:

    Poor planning! It appears nobody planned that we could actually have a cold winter like we have had
    in the past. No consideration for a wet corn harvest, cold winter, exporting far above previous
    years, changing gas lines from propane to another
    product. We should be proactive in our planning
    to allow for such problems. Fail to plan, plan
    to fail.

  2. Jay Lininger says:

    We in us are the last to get lp gas they would rather send it overseas to make more money, we in the US get screwed on the price. We should never send lp out of the country utill it is known we will not need it.

  3. Gregory Dunkling says:

    The hypocrisy of the gas & oil industry benefitting from huge tax breaks while shipping gas and oil abroad for higher profits. What’s wrong with this picture? Write your Congressman and local papers to express your feelings.