Frequently asked questions
Is the website the only way to receive the information?
No. Daily pricing updates can be accessed via the website but can also be sent to you up to four times a day by email.
How is the information different from information provided by suppliers?
Suppliers set their prices daily based on the spot market. Their price always includes their margin. By getting our daily spot market updates you will have an insight into when your supplier may be changing their price.
How can I save money using propane spot prices on propaneprice.com?
When you get daily spot prices from propaneprice.com, you will know when your supplier's price may be going up or down. A price change of one cent per gallon equals $95 per load. By planning and lifting a load of gas in relation to the market, you could save $95. It takes less than five loads with savings of one cent per gallon to more than pay for propaneprice.com for the entire year!
What is the value of the historical pricing data available on propaneprice.com?
With years of historical propane, crude oil and natural gas price data, you can analyze the effect on your business and help predict the magnitude of future price movements on your bottom line. Better knowledge means better profits.
What are the differences between propaneprice.com and the DTN Energy package? DTN provides posted supplier prices and propane, natural gas, and crude oil futures prices updated live. Propaneprice.com has propane spot market prices in many locations updated four times a day, plus updates on natural gas and crude oil and market analysis. Propaneprice.com also has actual prices at Mt. Belvieu and Conway for propane being sold today.
What is the purpose of the "Forward Price Curve?"
The "Forward Price Curve" shows prices for the next year or two for propane at Mt. Belvieu and Conway, natural gas converted to cents per gallon, and crude oil converted to cents per gallon at 60% of crude. These are actual prices for contracts for future months at the point in time the graph was created, not a prediction of where prices will be when the month arrives. The natural gas floor sets the floor for propane. If natural gas moves higher than propane, it will not likely stay there long because propane will start to be left in the natural gas if natural gas is valued higher. Until natural gas moves down, propane has little chance of moving down. Before the shale revolution which dramatically ramped up propane production in the U.S., propane traded at a 75 percent of crude in a balanced market. With excess supply of propane, the percentage to crude has traded between 30 and 50 percent of crude oil during the past five years. It is possible that with exports of propane ramping up dramatically, that 75 percent of crude may become the balanced market once again.
Conversion of crude oil in cpg at 60 percent of crude:
Current $ per barrel X .60
Natural Gas as Propane Floor:
Current $ per MCF + .25
What are other key factors affecting the price of propane?
CRUDE OIL - Propane is produced from either refining crude oil or fractionating natural gas liquids. Although crude oil used to be the sources of half of the propane produced in the U.S., the shale revolution has caused it to be the source for less than 30 percent. Nonetheless, propane prices tend to move up and down with crude oil. Over ten years ago, 75 percent of crude was perceived for many years to be a balanced market, but the percentage is typically closer to 40 to 50 percent more recently as much more propane comes from natural gas liquids. Nonetheless, the ups and downs of propane are most often in tandem with the ups and downs of crude oil. Supply and demand in the petrochemical industry often move propane to higher and lower percentages of crude oil. The fluctuations occur as the petrochemical industry alternates between using many products such as naphtha and ethane that are also refined from crude oil.
NATURAL GAS - Natural gas has moved from the source of about half of U.S. propane supply to a source for over 70 percent. Propane from natural gas is produced from fractionating natural gas liquids. The price of natural gas is always a major factor affecting the price of propane. Natural gas sets the floor for propane because it natural gas is valued higher than propane, propane is left in the natural gas.
PETROCHEMICAL DEMAND - This factor is closely related to propane's value in relation to crude oil. The petrochemical industry accounts for an average of 33 percent of propane usage in the United States. Because the petrochemical industry can use a variety of fuels such as ethane, butane, and naphtha as well as propane, it uses the fuel it can purchase at the lowest price. As prices of these alternate fuels change, the petrochemical industry continually switches to the lowest cost fuel.
REFINERY PRODUCTION - Refineries produce propane from crude oil as a by-product of making motor gasoline. Refineries in North America use natural gas to make refined products from crude oil. When natural gas becomes more expensive than propane, refineries cut back their natural gas use and use propane to run their refinery. This loss of propane production causes propane inventory to decrease and prices to increase.
TRADING ACTIVITY - Traders buy propane when they think it is undervalued and sell propane when they think it is overvalued in the major propane production and storage hubs. These include Conway, KS and Mt. Belvieu, TX. Because of the large volumes they buy and sell they are one of the factors contributing to price volatility. Trading of crude oil, natural gas, and other commodities can also affect the price of propane.
IMPORTS / EXPORTS - Imports and exports affect inventory levels. When propane prices in North America are lower than prices in the rest of the world we see more exports which lowers propane inventory and increases prices. When propane prices are higher than Europe and Asia, North America sees more imports increasing inventory and decreasing prices.
WEATHER - Weather certainly affects inventory and demand levels. Weather is the largest demand factor affecting not only propane inventory and price but also natural gas and heating oil.
INFRASTRUCTURE - The propane distribution infrastructure becomes a major factor in propane pricing on a regional level as demand increases and the infrastructure is pushed to the limits of its capacity to deliver. Once demand outstrips the distribution delivery capacity in a region other distribution chains must develop by trucks or tank cars from another oversupplied region in North America. The price of propane will continue to rise in the under supplied region to a price level high enough to develop this new distribution network. This increase in price for this time period is called a "Basis Blowout."
GEOPOLITICAL EVENTS - Events overseas such as an oil worker strike in Venezuela or war in Iraq can impact supply of propane. Emotional reaction to such events often plays a major role as suppliers and buyers base decisions on outcomes related to such events.
ENERGY INVENTORIES - Inventory levels of propane, heating oil, crude oil and natural gas are followed by all energy market participants. Inventory level is the net result of all supply and demand factors. As inventory trends up or down from normal levels this will cause price volatility up and down.