About Propane About Propane
Propane, an important part of America’s energy mix for more than a century, is a byproduct of natural gas processing and oil refining. What makes propane popular with users, however, is what separates it from conventional fuels like gasoline, diesel, and electric.
Propane is an approved clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act. Substituting propane for other fuels such as gasoline and fuel oil is an economical and viable step toward cleaner air. Using propane reduces the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and air pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.
Learn about the U.S. manufacturers creating low-emissions propane technology.
Propane production keeps quality jobs in our country. As of 2012, more than 145,000 workers across the U.S. are employed in propane trade, wholesale, and sales. If you’re looking for a job that takes you places and makes an impact for customers, learn more about joining the industry.
America produces more than enough propane to meet demand. In fact, the U.S. is propane’s leading producer. Propane is an abundant bridge fuel, making it a clean-burning alternative to gasoline and diesel that can address energy challenges while long-term renewable technologies are developed.
Despite sharp declines in oil prices, domestic propane production is expected to continue to grow rapidly, keeping downward pressure on average propane prices relative to oil prices.
What is propane?
Propane — sometimes known as liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG — is a gas normally compressed and stored as a liquid. It is nontoxic, colorless, and virtually odorless; an identifying odor is added so it can be detected. When used as vehicle fuel, propane is known as propane autogas. Propane is most commonly used for home and water heating, for cooking, and as fuel for engine applications such as forklifts, mowers, generators, and irrigation engines. However, its applications are rapidly growing due to new technology developments.
Where does propane come from?
Propane is primarily a byproduct of domestic natural gas processing, though some propane is produced from crude oil refinement. U.S. propane supplies are becoming increasingly abundant due in large part to increased supplies of natural gas.
- As shale gas extraction has increased, the production of propane from crude oil refinement has dropped dramatically. In 2011, 69 percent of the total U.S. supply of propane came from natural gas liquids produced in the U.S. and Canada.₁
- Strong growth in propane supply is expected to come from the Marcellus Shale Play in the northeastern U.S. Industry observers estimate the Marcellus Shale alone can supply more than 2 billion gallons of propane per year.₂
- Because of the drastic increase in U.S. sources of propane, the U.S. produces more than enough propane to meet current demand and became a net exporter of propane in 2011.₁
Who uses propane?
Propane is used by homeowners, businesses, and organizations. Many industries are increasingly choosing propane to cost-effectively fuel vehicles and equipment while lowering emissions. Propane can be used to power a variety of applications and equipment for residential and commercial construction, on road vehicles, landscape management, material handling, and agricultural needs.
How is propane distributed?
With over 300,000 miles of transmission pipelines as of 2016, propane is widely available and easily portable.₁ As of 2018, there are more than 3,100 propane retail stations nationwide.₂  Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Table 1-10: U.S. Oil and Gas Pipeline Mileage, https://www.bts.gov/content/us-oil-and-gas-pipeline-mileage, (Accessed July 18, 2018).  Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Alternative Fueling Station Counts by State, https://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/stations_counts.html, (Accessed July 18, 2018).
How does the propane industry contribute to the economy?
The propane industry generated nearly $46.2 billion in U.S. GDP in 2015.₁  ICF International, Impact of the U.S. Consumer Propane Industry on U.S. and State Economies in 2015, (September 2017), prepared for the Propane Education & Research Council, http://www.npga.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2015-Propane-Industry-Impact-on-US-and-State-Economies-FINAL.pdf.