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U.S. halts LPG shipments to Asia amid storm havoc

Staff Writer |
Shipments of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from the United States have been held up by the havoc wrought by tropical storm Harvey since last Friday, but Asian buyers are betting the situation will improve before supplies are critically squeezed.

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At least 300,000 tonnes in LPG shipments to Asia have been delayed after U.S. Gulf ports were shut, based on the estimates from four sources who buy mainly U.S. cargoes.

Asia is short of LPG, which in the form of butane or propane is used for transportation, heating, cooking and petrochemical production.

Based on IHS Markit data, Asia imported close to 53 million tonnes of LPG in 2016, with about 66 percent coming from the Middle East and 22 percent from the United States.

Prices reacted swiftly to the U.S. delays, with Saudi Aramco on Aug. 28 setting its September contract prices for propane at $480 a tonne and butane at $500 a tonne.

These were up $40 to $60 a tonne from July and also Saudi Aramco's highest monthly prices since March.

Japan, South Korea and China are Asia's top consumers of LPG. Major buyers include Japan's Astomos Energy, South Korea's SK Gas and China's Oriental Energy.

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