Odorized Propane Sales Tumble; Overall NGLs Edge Up

State and PADD data gathered on odorized propane markets in 2012 show total U.S. sales tumbled nearly 12.9% compared to 2011, a loss of more than 1.14 Bgal. year over year. According to the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) “2012 Sales of Natural Gas Liquids and Liquefied Refinery Gases” survey released early this year, odorized propane sales in the nation stood at nearly 7.74 Bgal. in 2012 as opposed to the almost 8.9 Bgal. sold a year earlier.

The latest loss, as reported by API, follows a 3.3% decline in 2011 compared to 2010, about a 7.6% drop in 2010 from 2009, a 4% dip in 2009 from 2008, and a deficit of 3.4% in 2008 compared to 2007. The last year sales showed an improvement was in 2007 over 2006, when volumes rose 7.8%. For the five-year period—2008 through 2012—included in API’s latest report, sales figures show an erosion of more than 2.2 Bgal. that represents a near-22.2% retreat.   

The news was a bit better for U.S. sales of natural gas liquids and liquefied refinery gases—butane, ethane, pentanes plus, and propane—which edged 2% higher from 2011. However, propane, which represents a 40.5% slice of the overall NGL pie, came in 0.7% lower in 2012 from a year earlier. Butane, with a 15.9% share, gained 4% in sales in the most recent year surveyed. Ethane, 35.2% of total NGLs, edged up 3.1%, and pentanes plus (natural gasoline and other heavier hydrocarbons), with 8.4% of NGL sales, climbed 7.6%.

At the same time, total propane sales of all types dipped about 0.7% in 2012 from the prior year, shedding nearly 1.3 MMgal. to stand at just under 17.8 Bgal., which was down from the almost 17.9 Bgal. sold in 2011. PADD 1, the East Coast, gave up 3.7 MMgal. to fall almost 11.7% for the year. PADD 2, the Midwest, shed 3.9 MMgal. to slide 12.5%. Conversely, PADD 3, the Gulf Coast, captured an additional 9.4 MMgal. to advance 10.3%. PADD 4, the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii, sloughed off 5.7 MMgal. to flatten 12%. PADD 5, the Rocky Mountain region, was 1.5 MMgal. lower for a loss of nearly 12.7%.    

API state rankings for 2012 odorized propane sales show Michigan leading the nation in the residential sector, representing 7.1% of the segment with 2.88 MMgal. sold. Close behind is California with 2.14 MMgal. and a 5.3% residential market share. Following are Wisconsin, 2.07 MMgal. and 5.1%; Illinois, nearly 1.94 MMgal., 4.8%; and Minnesota, 1.8 MMgal. and a 4.4% slice. Together, the five states represented 26.6% of the residential sector in 2012 with 1.08 Bgal. sold.

Leading the commercial sector was California, with Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania trailing. California, with 9.35 MMgal. sold, captured 6.3% of the market, with Florida, 9.13 MMgal. in sales, garnering 6.2%. Texas posted 7.57 MMgal. of commercial sales and held 5.1% of the market; North Carolina, 7.53 MMgal. and just under that 5.1% mark; and finally Pennsylvania, almost 7.05 MMgal. with 4.8%. The 4.06 MMgal. sold cumulatively by the states represented 27.4% of the commercial market.

Number one in the agricultural sector was, once again, Iowa, with North Carolina, Minnesota, California, and Illinois in pursuit. Of the 38.9 MMgal. sold and a 48.2% market share for the five states, Iowa reeled in 12.0 MMgal. and 14.9% of agriculture sales. North Carolina took 12% with almost 9.7 MMgal.; Minnesota, 8.7%, 7.03 MMgal.; California, 6.5%, 5.24 MMgal.; and Illinois, 6.2%, with nearly 5 MMgal.

In terms of overall odorized propane sales in all categories, California for the second year, was ranked first, followed in descending order by North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New York. Of those 10 leading states, however, and not surprisingly, none exceeded prior-year sales and all posted declines.

By sales sector, API sees residential numbers off 19.2% in 2012 compared to 2011, down nearly 9.7 MMgal. Commercial sales dropped 4.9% to give up about 7.6 MMgal. Sales to retailers plunged 26.75% to hollow out volumes by nearly 9.2 MMgal. Industrial sales, meanwhile, cratered 21%, approaching 1.36 MMgal. On a brighter note, the internal combustion sector marked a 24.8% upswing for the year that represented more than 12.2 MMgal. of additional sales. Agricultural sales also rose, but modestly, edging nearly 0.74% higher year over year, a rise of a little over 5.9 MMgal.

For a further breakdown on U.S. sales of odorized propane, go to www.bpnews.com.