The best of Trader’s Corner 2023

Editor's note: Propane traders use data to make important decisions on when to buy and sell their product. We at LP Gas magazine use data to learn about the articles that most interest our readers. This helps us make decisions on what topics to cover in the magazine.


As the year comes to a close, we present the top Trader’s Corner articles from 2023, ranked by page views on the LP Gas website. Except for our Propane Suppliers Guide, which we included at No. 3, these articles were written by Mark Rachal of LP Gas partner Cost Management Solutions (CMS).

Chart from 1/3/2023 – Mont Belvieu - ETR Propane Forward Price Curve

#1: Hot topic: Forward price curves

Report date: Jan. 3
A forward price curve reflects the value of the market in current and future months. It is common practice to trade propane in a 36-month window. A forward curve should not be seen as a predictor of future prices. Conditions will change, and the curve will change with those changes in conditions. At one point in time, considering all they know about the current market, buyers and sellers will come together to make deals that have established the value of propane. Trader’s Corner in January explored the shape of the curve and what it means for propane buyers.

#2 Hot topic: Timing the propane buy

Report date: May 8
This Trader’s Corner compared the then-current price of Mont Belvieu – around the 70-cent mark – with its May price average over the past 10 years. That 10-year May price average for Mont Belvieu was 75.6426 cents. The monthly average for May propane was lower than its then-current price five times, including May 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. This Trader’s Corner found that during the past 10 years, May propane was often valued higher than the current price, and those times when it wasn’t resulted from exceptional situations. Many market forces were at play to begin May 2023, and Trader’s Corner offered fuel for thought for retailers wondering if the time was right to buy propane.

Chart from 2/22/2023 – Total US Propane Exports 2018 Forward

#3 Hot topic: 2023 Propane Suppliers Guide

We thought this was a relevant resource to include on the list, and our reader data confirmed it. Our Suppliers Guide is always a popular directory of the industry’s top wholesale propane sources. Propane retailers can find our 2023 guide here, and we’re in the process of preparing the latest guide with updates for our February 2024 issue. 


#4 Hot topic: Record propane exports

Report date: Feb. 22
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the U.S. exported a record 1.845 million barrels per day (bpd) of propane. Overseas, propane values were outstripping the U.S. market, keeping demand for U.S. propane high. This Trader’s Corner tracked propane values and price spreads at points around the world. “It is amazing to have seen the transition of the U.S. propane industry over the years,” Rachal wrote. “When we began [writing Trader’s Corner], the U.S. was a net importer of propane.” This Trader’s Corner served as a reminder to propane retailers about global influences on the U.S. market.

It is amazing to have seen the transition of the U.S. propane industry over the years.

#5 Hot topic: Record propane production and the supply chain

Report date: Aug. 21
This Trader’s Corner turned into a valuable lesson about the propane supply chain, but it started with a discussion about production. For the week ending Aug. 4, the U.S. produced a record 2.687 million bpd of propane. Rachal described that kind of production as a “game-changer for propane fundamentals if sustained.” CMS believed the increase in production was due to the increased fractionation capacity around Mont Belvieu. When the firm reported this development in its Propane Price Insider report, it received inquiries about propane production. “We realized from those discussions the need to review the propane supply chain,” Rachal wrote. This report offered a well-explained refresher about the propane supply chain. Keep reading...

Cost Management Solutions LLC (CMS) is a firm dedicated to the unbiased analysis of the energy markets for the propane industry.

Mark Rachal, Director of Research and Publications at CMS, regularly provides insightful looks into various facets of the marketplace.