’Tis the season! No, not that one—don’t toddle off to the mall just yet. It’s the pre-winter driving season, meaning refiners are boosting butane prices as they stock up for their winter gasoline blends.
Also spreading joy was propane, which vaulted to its highest price point in almost three years as the hypothetical NGL barrel closed in on highs for the year at both hubs in the past week.
In the past week, ethane came within one-tenth of a cent per gallon (gal) of its high for 2017 at Mont Belvieu, Texas, set four weeks ago. The butanes and C5+ had their strongest price showing since Super Bowl week, almost eight months ago.
Natural gas prices, which touched $3 per MMBtu at Chicago City Gate and the Houston Ship Channel at the start of the Hart Energy Frac Spread “week,” wavered and then slumped slightly as the days passed. A cooler October could help prices, but that might not be enough if there is not a rapid recovery from the recent hurricanes.
Other natural gas factors include LNG exports. Cheniere Energy Inc. (NYSE MKTS: LNG) recently marked a one-day record of 2.9 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas delivered to its Sabine Pass, La., terminal, and Dominion Energy Inc. (NYSE: D) is progressing through the commissioning stage of its Cove Point, Md., export terminal.
En*Vantage warns about the impact on Mexico’s infrastructure from the recent earthquakes and aftershocks. The analysts anticipate a slowdown in natural gas deliveries as a result.
The price of ethane climbed back above 27 cents/gal at Mont Belvieu for only the second time this year and only the third time since mid-2014 (the price hit 27.65 cents/gal in late December 2016). The price slipped below 19 cents/gal at Conway, Kan., but the margin narrowed since last week although it was still in the negative.
Propane, up 7.3% in the last week at Mont Belvieu and 6.3% at Conway, had not crossed 90 cents/gal since October 2014 at Mont Belvieu. Just shy of 90 cents/gal at Conway, the price was still the highest since November 2014.