Frac Spread: For Prices, Looking Ahead Means Looking Down

Ethane, propane and natural gas continue to drop, dragged down by high inventories and warm winter weather.

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(Source:, Shutterstock)

The coronavirus outbreak in China isn’t helping, but last week’s NGL prices would have continued their free fall anyway. Even more troubling: more downward price pressure is expected for ethane, propane and natural gas.

Ethane’s Mont Belvieu, Texas, sub-20 cents per gallon (gal) reached 19 weeks while the weekly average for ethane at Conway, Kan., stayed in single digits for the third straight week. For those keeping score at home, the last time Conway ethane averaged higher than 20 cents/gal was over the two-week stretch at the close of 2018, or almost 13 months ago.

Historically speaking, Mont Belvieu ethane has never been in the single digits for the five-day average since Hart Energy began tracking the price almost 15 years ago. Last week’s price of just under 12 cents/gal was the lowest since early August. The Conway, Kan., price, by contrast, was stuck in single digits for six straight trading days until it cracked 10 cents/gal on Jan. 28.

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Joseph Markman

Joseph Markman, senior editor for Hart Energy, covers markets and provides data analysis for all Hart Energy editorial products.