With the onset of severely cold weather seen over the past weeks, propane supplies in the Midwest are extremely tight. The Midwest spot price of propane at Conway, Kansas, has spiked far above the Gulf Coast spot price at Mont Belvieu, Texas. The high propane prices in the Midwest are the result of both increased demand for crop drying in November and increased demand for space heating in the current cold weather.
In the Midwest, propane is used for both drying agricultural crops and heating homes and businesses. For corn to be stored, it first needs to be dried, using large-scale heaters that often use propane for fuel. A late-2013 corn harvest, along with cold, wet weather, resulted in strong demand for propane at distribution terminals in the Upper Midwest. For the week ending November 1, 2013, Midwest propane inventories dropped more than 2 million barrels, the largest single-week stock draw in any November since 1993. This demand prompted a strong upward price response, and propane at Conway moved to a 3-cent-per-gallon (gal) premium over Mont Belvieu during the first week of November, the first such premium in almost three years.