MFA Oil encourages propane customers to fill up now

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COLUMBIA - The U.S. Energy Department predicts lower propane costs this winter. However, MFA Oil said mid-Missourians should still take precaution.

Last year, there were consistent low temperatures across the Midwest, South, and East forcing heating bills to rise, as well as a propane shortage here in mid-Missouri. MFA Oil Director of Public Relations Tom May said this was happened for many reasons.

"Last year, there were contributing factors that made the perfect storm where we got price spikes," May said. "We had a high amount of exports, record amounts for crop grain drying, and changes in the pipeline structure in Midwest."

This year, the Energy Department reports that milder temperatures should reduce homeowners fuel use leading to lower heating bill costs.

However, in mid-Missouri MFA Oil Business Development Manager Tom Procter said there is no way of guaranteeing that.

"We have too many factors that we have to evaluate, supply, weather, they're all interrelated," Procter said. "Saying that prices are going to be lower today, we can't do that."

Procter said currently for mid-Missouri the supply of propane going into this winter is only slightly higher than the previous winter.

"Indicators are still much like last year, we are having a good crop drying usage for propane all throughout the Midwest, which is exactly how last winter started off" Procter said.

He also said, with mid-Missouri weather, there is no way to 100 percent know what weather temperatures are going to look like.

"Unless we can exactly predict what the weather is going to do everyday for the rest of the winter, we can't predict exactly," Procter said. "When winter weather hits the supply goes down and the demand goes up, which naturally causes the prices to increase."

Procter said MFA Oil is encouraging customers to prepare for winter weather and fill their propane tanks now while prices are low to avoid large expenses later.