Archive for January, 2014

Vortex Tools looks at how the polar vortex might lead to a propane shortage.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve found our environmental boogieman of 2014: the polar vortex.

It’s been blamed for enough things that I might as well frame it for me slacking on blog updates, too, but when it comes to your heating bill, you don’t need to be conspiracy minded to understand that the colder it is, the higher your heating bill is likelier to be. Well, what happens when we take record low temperatures, limited supply of natural gas, increased demand, and expand the issue nationwide?

Well, this:

Source: OPIS

Source: OPIS

Sure, it looks like a couple of squiggly lines showing the ups and downs on the value of propane and ethane over the last few years until… oh my, is that 2014—as in, now, today—on the far right?

Yes it is, and the skew is far from over considering there are many months of cold weather to come.

Here’s what this means:

Propane is a popular heating fuel. With temperatures being so low, demand has doubled… then doubled again. Hence why that line is going straight up. An acquaintance called a local propane dealer three days apart—the price went up 112% in that time and the quote was only guaranteed for one lone hour.

Ethane, however, is now viewed as a problem fuel, because you can’t burn ethane in a propane heater (you can use butane, but you need a different burner). It’s now worth ($0.50)/gallon—as in minus fifty-cents a gallon. You actually have to pay someone to take it away. Or you burn it—which is pretty much the oil and gas solution to unwanted gas (and natural gas liquid) issues. It’s part of the reason why the Bakken looks like a lit-up city from space.

(Regulations haven’t gone into effect against flaring/burning gas yet, but overall, some think these issues may be good for gas prices as they’ve been depressed for so long.)

However, if there is another cold spell, there could be a natural gas shortage, and that’s with the increased supply enabled by fracking. In addition to the jobs squeeze, this propane issue may make those cities that banned fracking regret their decision.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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