It’s still August, but there already is crispness in the Wisconsin mornings. And to a propaner, that’s a signal that the heating season is on its way. It is time to get those supplies lined out, and to make sure that customers are ready for the winter. But Wisconsin is a long way from the centers of propane supply. How does the propane get there? How do the Distribution experts make sure the right volumes are in the right place at the right time? In today’s blog we’ll continue our exploration of the Art of NGL Distribution by digging into the mechanics of moving supply on the Enterprise Mid-America Pipeline (“MAPL”) system from the Conway, KS hub to the Wisconsin market. Along the way we’ll learn how propane is scheduled on a pipeline system, how a NGL pipeline tariff works, and why the word “allocation” sends shivers down the spine of an NGL shipper.
First, let’s spend a few minutes to understand the infrastructure. Mid-America Pipeline (MAPL, called MAPCO back in the dark ages when I used to work there) is one of Enterprise Products Partners’ many NGL pipeline assets. It is one of the oldest commercial NGL pipelines in North America and was built to move NGL’s from some of the original NGL production and processing basins, like the Anadarko and Permian for fractionation and storage in Conway, KS, and then to move purity products on to markets in the Midwest.
There are three pieces of MAPL -- The 2,932 mile segment that brings product down from the Rocky Mountains, the 2,222 mile segment south of Conway, and the piece that we are focused on today – the 2,769 mile Conway North system. All in, MAPL covers 13 states. By far the big volume product moving on Conway North has always been propane, and the MAPL lines feed the huge propane heating and agricultural appetite in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. See the map below. While things have changed and evolved over the decades, propane demand remains the heart and soul for those legs of MAPL.