Oil & Bioheat

Propane prices in Maine

The U.S. shale gasoline growth was likely to usher-in a time of lower prices and power liberty that will extend to propane, a byproduct of oil and gas manufacturing that is being marketed as an option to heating oil in Maine. But as autumn abruptly converted into a cold, snowy cold temperatures, Maine and remainder of the latest England were experiencing omitted.

Domestically produced propane had been submitted increasing volumes to the Gulf Coast for export overseas, where it is well worth additional money. By November, U.S. propane exports had been at record amounts, draining domestic stockpiles of this home heating fuel.

As inventories and conditions fell in December, supplies became so tight that some regional dealers had been running-out of propane. It appears paradoxical, but inspite of the flooding of domestic production, only the immediate arrival of ships carrying propane to New The united kingdomt from offshore held folks from freezing in their homes.

Unfortunately, imported propane is much more high priced compared to the domestic item. Rates in Maine began climbing in October now are at record highs, averaging $3.51 a gallon. At that price, warming a typical residence could cost around $3, 000 this winter months, about 37 percent more than heating equivalent house or apartment with oil. Propane temperature is much more pricey today, on a unit basis, than any resource besides old-fashioned electric.

Industry representatives generally blame this winter’s propane crisis on a convergence of uncommon occasions: extreme cool and continued storms; a bumper Midwest corn crop that needed drying out; the shortcoming of railroads, which now deliver the majority of Maine’s propane, to undertake the need; and insufficient propane storage space in New England and New York.

Nevertheless the crisis additionally reveals fundamental changes in the propane market that endure after the snow melts. They threaten maintain prices full of Maine and undermine the security required for home and business owners to embrace propane as a cleaner, affordable substitute for heating oil.


Gas is the ultimate goal of Maine power policy these days. But pipeline gas heats under 6 % of Maine homes, and vast aspects of this outlying condition may not be profitable to hook up. Propane warmed a lot more than 7 per cent of homes last year, in accordance with U.S. Census numbers, and industry quotes put it at 11 % these days and increasing.

Propane’s guarantee for Maine and outlying New England may hinge how really the handles a couple of crucial challenges: export policy, pipeline and transport changes, and regional storage. Earlier this thirty days, a special task force was setup because of the nationwide Propane gasoline Association to start tackling these alongside problems.

“We’ve got our work cut out for people, ” said Mollie O’Dell, a spokeswoman the association.

O’Dell stated the is focused today on getting through current supply crunch, particularly in the Midwest. It will be able to work on actions directed at rebuilding customer confidence.

“We’ll do what we can to make sure that we do not have different cold weather like this, ” she said.

Several of those actions could include national regulations and policies. Propane hasn’t already been a big political problem outside Midwest farm says, but that could transform. Early in the day this month, a number of members of Congress, including some from Maine’s delegation, sent letters to President Obama. On top of other things, they asked the president to review all available choices to move propane to places with shortages, via interstate pipelines, highways, train and water.

“Any further reduction in supply threatens to leave numerous Americans minus the gasoline necessary to heat up homes, organizations, and livestock and poultry businesses, ” the letter from House users reads. “Given the significance of this case to customers, we urge you to definitely try everything in your capacity to address this problem straight away.”


A fast-changing landscape for petroleum markets and item values is modifying the action of propane for domestic use.

In Midwest, the Cochin pipeline that relocated oil from Alberta through six states before entering Ontario also is becoming repurposed. It will pump a light-grade oil from shale fuel deposits back to Alberta, in which it is familiar with dilute hefty tar-sands oil.

No pipelines bring propane into New The united kingdomt, but operational alterations in a corridor running between Texas and ny condition tend to be harming the location. One element of what’s referred to as TEPPCO range that formerly carried propane north ended up being corrected in Ohio. It now centers on going ethane, a byproduct of shale gasoline in Northeast, back to Tx in making plastics.

In an unprecedented activity on Feb. 7, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered TEPPCO’s owner to immediately deliver propane north again from Tx to your Midwest and Northeast. It’s a temporary, disaster activity, made on urging of this propane connection, however it’s anticipated to help alleviate the supply shortage.

A lot of the nation’s altering pipeline flows support the developing propane export marketplace. The usa exported 20 % of the propane last year, up from 5 per cent in 2008. Statistics gathered by the U.S. Energy Ideas Administration reveal the trend. In November, the U.S. delivered out 410, 000 drums every single day of propane, a record.

The U.S. fuel glut very first to enter the market for liquefied natural gas, or LNG. Rather than importing LNG to the US, as was typical five years ago, U.S. energy companies are moving to export it.

Propane now is following lead of liquefied natural gas. Last autumn, Phillips 66 announced intends to develop a $1 billion export terminal for liquefied petroleum gas items, including propane and butane.


There’s one huge difference between exporting natural gas and propane. Companies require Department of Energy endorsement to export LNG, considering long-standing power security issues. But with the exception of pipeline jobs, which require authorization through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, propane exports tend to be unregulated. This winter’s shortages and cost spikes are increasing questions regarding whether the hands-off policy may be beneficial.

“It’s crazy, ” said Kim Tucker, a lawyer and environmental activist. “The authorities has actually exacerbated the problem. We merely shouldn’t have even more export facilities built. It’s as opposed to our national and regional passions.”

Tucker, which life on Islesboro, fought last year from the now-abandoned make an effort to develop a propane storage space center in close by Searsport, which had the potential to be used for export. Her major problems had been tank safety and ship traffic. But Tucker in addition stated that permitting endless propane exports goes against the guarantee that making use of questionable “hydrofracking” technology to extract shale gas would bring energy independency into Northeast.

“That’s everything we had been offered, ” she said. “The entire fracking process was wrapped in the US banner. And then we could possibly be energy-independent, when we don’t export that which we create.”

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