US propane traders double down

If there is one phrase that is nearly guaranteed to make the trading floor manager’s blood run cold it is this: “double down.”

But for US propane traders facing a glut of supply and a contango that looks like Mount Vesuvius on the outer-month price chart, doubling down might not look like the worst option.  Continue reading

Posted in Oil

No propane for Portlandia

About a year ago Canadian midstream operator Pembina Pipeline scrapped plans to build an export terminal off the Canadian west coast near Prince Rupert Sound, instead striking a deal with the Port of Portland in a fairy tale agreement. The contract would make the two groups partners in the biggest private investment project to grace the city of Portland, Oregon: a $500mn rail-fed propane export terminal.  Continue reading

Philadelphia Freedom

At a time when United States railroads are jammed with pressurized cars carrying propane, the Sunoco Logistics natural gas liquids (NGL) export terminal just outside of Philadelphia is liberating barrels to the water, while giving the Marcellus shale player its own optionality for ideal takeaway.

The company has begun an export program that is unheard of amid US propane terminal operators. The big difference? Sunoco is handling its own freight and deliveries of waterborne propane cargo, while the rest of US players’ involvement stops at their own dock space.  Continue reading

Rejection, re-injection and ethane angst

US propane production has outpaced ethane output, according to federal data, something that hasn’t happened since 1993. And it’s all because ethane’s been feeling a little rejected.

Starting around late 2012 the surge in natural gas liquids (NGLs) output — thanks to the shale boom — sent ethane prices plummeting to the 20¢/USG range. That led to midstream fees associated with purity ethane production becoming more costly than the value of the feedstock itself. Companies began blending ethane, the lightest of the NGLs, with natural gas as a way to recoup some of the costs – and dispose of the monstrous ethane overhang.  Continue reading