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Keeping the Heat On: Gas Groups Remedy Last Winter’s Supply Problems

With the holidays—and lower temperatures—on the way, officials in the propane and natural gas industries are working to reassure the public that they've been improving the supply chain issues that left some out in the cold last winter.

Last winter was not a good one on the heating supply front—with the propane industry in particular feeling the pain from supply chain issues.

But trade groups in both the propane and natural gas industries insist that they’re ready this year to help prevent any shortages or unexpected price increases. More details:

Natural gas industry plays up infrastructure growth: In recent comments, America’s Natural Gas Alliance has been bullish on the industry’s odds of holding up for a long winter season. Last month, ANGA published an infographic highlighting the industry’s efforts to increase gas production, particularly the addition of $19 billion in pipeline infrastructure in the past year. “This means that more consumers are able to get the energy they need,” the association says. In comments to Fuel Fix, ANGA President and CEO Marty Durbin said that while there are lower levels of natural gas supplies in storage, a boost in production has helped. “We’ve seen record injections that have brought natural gas storage to just under the five-year average,” Durbin said. “If you couple it with the increased production, we’ve now got more natural gas this winter than we had going into last winter.”

The Natural Gas Supply Association, meanwhile, in its annual assessment of winter gas prices, predicted an easing of consumer demand. “When NGSA weighed all the different pressure points, the picture that emerged for the upcoming winter is one of remarkable growth in supply and steady underlying growth in demand that will be moderated by the forecast for a warmer winter than last year’s,” the group said in an October news release [PDF].

Propane supply up: The propane industry, which has a smaller market footprint than natural gas but is a significant source of heat for millions of people, is likewise offering assurances that last year’s problems won’t recur this winter. Mollie O’Dell, communications director for the National Propane Gas Association told CBS Moneywatch that the industry has been working to boost capacity. “In the states with the highest propane usage, the industry added storage capacity over the summer and worked with customers to fill tanks prior to the heating season,” she said. “The heating season has started, and the propane industry is well positioned to continue safely serving our customers with the fuel on which they rely.”

O’Dell cited the 18 million barrels of propane that are currently in storage, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast, a 29 percent increase over 2013.

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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