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Supply chain planning the focus in New England

September 27, 2021 By    

When it comes to propane markets, New England could be considered one of the most unique regions of the country.

Highly seasonal demand comes in the form of mostly residential and commercial propane gallons. These swings can sometimes complicate supply chain planning in the six states comprising August’s Propane Fuels America series.

In 2019, the latest year for available sales data, the New England states combined for 775 million gallons.

“The seasonal demand in New England tends to be more heavily weighted toward winter versus any other region in the United States, with consumption ratios as high as 4-to-1 or 5-to-1 winter to summer,” says Chris Roth, vice president of East marketing and supply at Crestwood Midstream.

From a supply standpoint, New England is predominantly reliant on rail and marine imports in the absence of local pipelines and production facilities, Roth explains. The TEPPCO pipeline, which originates at Mont Belvieu near Houston, stops in Selkirk, New York.

That leaves rail and truck as the main sources of propane supply and distribution from other regions and Canada. In fact, a propane infrastructure map prepared by RBN Energy for the Propane Education & Research Council shows 25 terminals in the region – and all but one are fed by rail – as companies have invested in infrastructure in recent years.

“This combination of ‘imported’ supply and a steep demand curve makes storage the most important asset in the region,” Roth says.

Blackline Midstream offers some diversity with its two Sea-3 marine terminals in Newington, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

In the last several years, the company built a new 16-spot rail rack to go with its five truck-loading bays in Newington, and added 270,000 gallons of propane storage capacity. It now has nearly 27 million gallons of storage at that facility. 

Providence has about 19 million gallons of storage capacity with three truck bays. Both facilities have import and export capabilities. Sea-3 Providence is also looking to incorporate propane rail supply into its LP gas marine terminal and storage facility despite local opposition.

While the propane industry in New England is playing defense against threats from policymakers to ban fuels like propane, optimism remains.

“Propane is growing in New England despite the decision to eliminate it from new construction or to eliminate the supply infrastructure that it requires,” says Leslie Anderson, president and CEO of the Propane Gas Association of New England. “We’re still fighting a fight and growing our gallons.”

Map image: Kolonko/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

About the Author:

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

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