Game-changing shale LPG has charged up U.S., making it a net exporter for the first time in 40 years.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in the first 11 months of 2012, daily LPG shipments were recorded at 194,000 barrels, higher than the country’s imports which stood at 169,700 barrels.
Seaborne LPG trade is expected to increase about 16% from 2010’s figures to 100.6 million metric tons this year, with U.S. exports likely to chalk up more than 5 million tons this year, up from last year’s 3.7 million. Encouraging industry signs have also put a forecast figure of next year’s export at 7 million tons.
Exports of propane will also see a positive upturn as Asia’s giant, China, creates a surge in demand in lieu of the 17 new propane dehydrogenation projects (PDH) that are coming onstream as soon as 2015. Although China can import high-purity propane from both US and Middle East, the lower cost US shale gas-derived propane is a major draw for the industry and is likely to cause a shift in trade.
The shale gas phenomena will have a ripple effect on the logistics and shipment sector, where service providers are likely to witness an uptake in business. Orders have since been sent out from shipyards, requesting for vessels specially designed to cater to LPG and petrochemical gases transportations, leading to a huge impact on the sector although the types and numbers of ships required is still unknown. As of now, ZOUEC is building six vessels with a shipbuilder, with the first 44,000 tonnes capacity LPG vessel coming onstream by the end of 2014.
The LPG industry remains upbeat as the shale gas boom brings more opportunities and interest areas in both upstream and downstream sectors.
Further discussions on the trade dynamics and market outlook will commence in Doha this November 18-20 when industry leaders convene at the 8th LPG Trade Summit.