Propane Supplies Steady, but not in the Northeast

Easy on the propane, ma'am: The Northeast is facing potential supply difficulties this winter. (image: Sarah McMurray via flickr.com)

The nation’s propane supply ended the year at 52.6 million barrels, according to federal data released this week. That’s within the average range, though on the lower side, following a 12 million barrel draw down in the inventory this frosty December.

But not all regions are on the same footing. The Gulf Coast states, which produce the majority of the country’s propane, were sitting on the most at the end of the year: 25.4 million barrels. The Midwest was close by, with 21.4 million barrels. Both numbers are at least 1,500,000 barrels ahead of last year’s marks.

Then there was the East Coast. The region ended the year with 4.2 million barrels in reserve, which is notably lower than the end-of-year numbers in 2009. And the Mid -Atlantic —Maryland to New York — has had it the worst. Facing supply disruptions that stem from a leaky pipeline in upstate New York, the region’s propane supplies are 26-percent below last year’s levels. And the Mid-Atlantic stocks dropped five straight weeks to end the year, punctuated by a nasty Yuletide blizzard that couldn’t have helped things.

“The ongoing supply chain issues warrant monitoring,” the Energy Information Administration (EIA) notes drily, “as there is potential for supply difficulties as we move deeper into the winter.”

Relief may come in mid-January, when the pipeline is expected to be completely back in service — barring any more delays in the work.