Price Floor Collapses at Trading Hubs

Spot propane at both Mont Belvieu and Conway, Kan. crashed Thursday, with mid-morning trading showing Belvieu spots losing 17 to 17.25 over the week and the Group 140 (Conway) market giving up 19.5 cents. The late-week losses followed Mont Belvieu dropping 7.5 cents Monday and the Group shedding 4.25 cents. The reversals came despite sustained frigid temperatures in the Upper Midwest and Northeast, although the needle indicating U.S. propane inventories didn’t budge the week ended Feb. 21, with volumes standing firm at 26.7 MMbbl from to a week earlier. Market watchers commented that with spot and wholesale prices dropping so rapidly, a lot of now-expensive gas remains in the transportation system and in storages.

Mont Belvieu non-LST mid-morning Thursday was trading at 112.75-115.00 cents/gal., down a steep 17.25 cents for buyers and 20 cents for sellers compared to the Monday email Update. Low and high deals posted as of press time were at 114.75 and 116.00 cents. LST spots, a bit narrower at 113.00-115.00 cents/gal., dropped 17 cents for buyers and that same 20 cents for sellers over the week, with one trade reported as of press time at 114.625 cents.
Bids and offers in the Group were at 117.25-119.50 cents/gal., off a sharp 19.50 cents for buyers and 21.25 cents for sellers compared to early-week activity. Low and high trades as of mid-morning were at 118.50 and 119.00 cents.

Canadian spot propane also cliff-dived, with Edmonton trading off a deep 27.75 cents for buyers and 27 cents for sellers from Monday. Thursday bids and offers were at 142.00-143.00 cents/gal. Sarnia spots, at a wide 187.00-208.50 cents/gal., fell 34 cents for buyers and 13 cents for sellers from Monday.

Ironically, with the sharp price declines of the week, sellers might actually have been welcoming news of more cold weather to buoy additional sales, rather than praying for warmer temperatures to slacken demand. Forecasters Thursday were calling for Arctic Midwest air to bring temperatures as much as 30 degrees below average. And early indications for the beginning of March saw snow covering a 1500-mile stretch from the northern Rockies and Central Plains to the Midwest and Northeast.