Supplies of most fuels are expected to be adequate, although more expensive, this winter, in the wake of the Persian Gulf crisis, a panel of energy experts said.
No shortages are expected in supplies of gasoline, jet fuel and heating oil. But supplies of propane already are at levels lower than last year and could present a "potentially serious problem" this winter, Calvin Kent, of the federal Energy Information Administration, said Tuesday.Propane is used in great amounts by farmers and other food producers to dry crops and as a chemical feedstock. It is also used for heating and cooking.
"If we have a below-average winter, I think it is entirely possible to have a (propane) shortage," Kent said during a winter fuel outlook sponsored by the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation and the Department of Energy.
The Farmers Almanac has forecast the coming winter to be colder than last winter.
The EIA said propane stocks, as of Sept. 21, stood at 53 million barrels, down from 60.4 million barrels one year ago.
Heating oil stocks, however, remain abundant and no shortages are expected, Kent said.
Crude oil stocks have increased from year-ago levels to 367.4 million barrels from 334.9 million barrels and are adequate. The agency said gasoline stocks appear adequate at 222.2 million barrels, down from 227 million barrels a year ago.
Kerojet fuel stocks, used as aviation fuel, "bear watching," Kent said. Supplies of kerojet fuel stood at 43.8 million barrels at Sept. 21, up from 41.1 million barrels a year ago.
"The supply is not as adequate as we would like," he said.
Refinery capacity is about the same this year while refinery utilization is running higher than year-ago levels.
The Persian Gulf crisis, which erupted following Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait, is expected to create a shortfall of about 1 million barrels of oil daily worldwide by the end of the fourth quarter, Kent said.