Energy security is an annual challenge in the northeast. In particular, New England relies heavily on LPG (propane) for residential and commercial heat. Uniquely among the propane market regions, New England possesses no propane production or propane pipeline connection to other regions. One hundred percent of New England’s propane supply is imported by rail and ship, is distributed exclusively by rail to bulk terminals throughout the region, and finally delivered to end-users by rail and truck.
New England’s propane insecurity is apparent in a Propane Supply Chain and Infrastructure Assessment conducted by Houston-based energy supply consultancy RBN Energy, and published by the Propane Energy & Research Council (PERC). The assessment confers a Propane Supply Reliability Index score on eight regions, which RGN identifies as presenting a better “propane picture” than the federal PADD map.
More competition for supply
New England has no regional propane production, no pipeline delivery terminals, limited storage capacity, and is 100% reliant on imports from other U.S. regions (55%) and overseas (45%; includes Canada). Growing export demand and flat production from the adjacent Mid‐Atlantic region could squeeze New England supply later in 2021. Maritime imports into Newington NH and Providence RI may partially offset the shortfall. It also may be possible to redirect Marcus Hook PA exports to cover regional shortfalls, however complexity and cost of such transactions may be prohibitive.
Short-term supplies high
As of this month, New England propane inventories are approximately double what they were this time last year.