While our collective focus may be on the earliest Opening Day (March 29) in Major League Baseball history, it might be time to start thinking about the World Series.

Granted, they haven’t played the games yet, but the Fall Classic is penciled in to start on Oct. 23 and by then propane inventories could be tight. That’s because the Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline is expected to be operational by then—third quarter, most likely—and En*Vantage predicts that the market will start to worry about sufficient propane supplies for the winter.

“There will likely be a repeat of last year’s cycle where propane prices relative to crude will be highest in the summer and fall months and lowest in the winter and spring months,” En*Vantage said.

Propane climbed back over 90 cents a gallon (gal) at Mont Belvieu, Texas, in the past week for the first time in five weeks and was 10% higher than the five-day average of two weeks ago. En*Vantage believes propane stocks could descend below 35 million barrels before the end of March. By the end of May, they should recover to about 44 million barrels.

Butane, which tumbled below $1/gal shortly after the start of the year, has jumped 19.6% at Mont Belvieu in the last two weeks. En*Vantage speculated that the sudden volatility in butane prices may have been caused by international traders buying for export markets. A major buyer or buyers could have been caught short.

The Mont Belvieu price for isobutane soared 14.7% in the past week to $1.1238/gal, its high point for the year and highest level in almost 13 months. The week’s margins also widened dramatically at Mont Belvieu: 16.1% for butane and 19.1% for isobutane.

Ethane has hovered around 24 cents/gal for the past four weeks as the New York Mercantile Exchange near-month Henry Hub price has averaged about $2.70 per million Btu. En*Vantage does not expect ethane balances to tighten until mid-year when demand reaches 1.8 million barrels per day and the ethane spread could reach 10 cents/gal. Last week’s spread narrowed to 6.32 cents/gal from 6.83 cents/gal the week before.

In the week ended Feb. 23, storage of natural gas in the Lower 48 experienced a decrease of 78 billion cubic feet (Bcf), the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported, close to the Bloomberg consensus of a 76 Bcf draw and below the five-year average of 118 Bcf. The figure resulted in a total of 1.682 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). That is 28.8% below the 2.362 Tcf figure at the same time in 2017 and 18.1% below the five-year average of 2.054 Tcf.

Joseph Markman can be reached at jmarkman@hartenergy.com and @JHMarkman.