US lawmakers urge Obama to help in propane shortage relief efforts

07 February 2014 23:03 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A bipartisan group of US senators are urging President Barack Obama to engage federal agencies in propane shortage relief efforts, according to open letter sent to the White House on Friday.

Transportation issues combined with unusually cold weather in the US has increased demand for propane, as it is used as a home heating fuel by many in the Midwest and northeast.

US stocks have fallen below the five-year seasonal average, with the most recent reports indicating propane stocks are 24m bbl lower than a year ago, almost a 44% drop, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) information referenced in the letter.

The letter asks for regulation relief to increase propane supplies and facilitation of transportation, via interstate pipelines and other modes of transportation, to areas suffering from shortages.

“Federal assistance and regulatory flexibility are critical to overcoming the hurdles that are currently preventing propane from reaching areas with shortages,” Senator John Thune (Republican-San Diego), a signer of the letter, said in a news release on Friday.

More than 20 US states have issued disaster declarations related to propane shortages, according to the letter.

The US Department of Transportation has issued orders that allow transporters to move propane more freely throughout some affected areas.

Residential propane prices as of 31 January were $3.89/gal, up $1.58/gal from 2013, the EIA said. Stocks were at 30.8m bbl as of 31 January, about 24.0m bbl lower than 2013, according to EIA data.

By Jessie Waldheim