Middle Eastern shipping sources announced that Iranian companies have raised LPG exports in recent months.
A report published by Platts on September 09 shows that LPG exports by Iranian producers have been on the rise since shipments to Asia resumed in May, ending an eight-month halt due to an EU ban on propane and butane trade from the country, Middle Eastern shipping sources said.
Other than major petrochemical exporter Petrochemical Commercial Co., firms such as Kharg Petrochemical Co. Ltd., National Iranian Oil Co. and Iran Gas Commercial Co. are also now exporting regularly, said the sources familiar with shipping operations.
The availability of Iranian LPG, mainly sold via direct discussions, is helping to fill any spot supply gaps in Asia whenever other Middle Eastern producers limit their offers, traders said.
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This and the rise in US cargoes arriving in Asia over the past five months have helped steady regional prices, in contrast to the volatility seen last year, traders said.
Compared with the same time last year, the price for propane cargoes for delivery along the major Singapore-Japan route was assessed at $916/mt on Friday last week. On September 6 last year, it was $1,125/mt, Platts data show.
During the first nine months this year, CFR propane prices were assessed at a high of $1,009/mt on February 15, and a low of $728/mt on April 23. In contrast, the peak last year was $1,253/mt on March 6 -- also an all-time high -- and the low was $621/mt on June 26.
The latest shipments to load from Iranian ports are by a South Korean trading firm and a Thai trading company, the sources said.
The 55,000 mt VLGC Gas Beauty, arrived at Bandar Imam Khomeini, or BIK, on August 28 and is currently in the Khor Fakkan waiting zone off Fujairah, according to Platts ship tracking tool cFlow. The vessel is slated to carry a cargo, the size of which is not known, from PCC for South Korea's E1 Corp., shipping sources said.
This is the seventh Iranian cargo E1 would have taken since May, when it won PCC's first export tender issued in eight months, comprising 33,000 mt of propane and 11,000 mt of butane for loading over May 15-25 from BIK and Assaluyeh on a CFR basis. The vessel for that cargo was Gas Jasmine, sources said.
E1 shipped 40,000 mt of evenly split cargo from PCC on board the Sam Russ over May 18-21 from BIK and Assaluyeh, the sources added.
The South Korean trader also loaded a 44,000 mt cargo from PCC on the Sam Russ from BIK as well as another parcel of an unknown size on the Gas Jasmine, sources said. The Sam Russ set sail on July 12 and the Gas Jasmine on July 20, they added.
The Gas Beauty has been plying the BIK-Assaluyeh-Khor Fakkan routes between early June and early September, cFlow tracker shows.
Siamgas Trading was scheduled to load a 20,000 mt cargo from NIOC on the Schumi, which was due to arrive at Assaluyeh on September 1, the sources said. The 51,000 mt vessel is currently sailing off southern India, near Sri Lanka, en route to East Asia, according to cFlow.
In June, it loaded a 13,000 mt cargo from Kharg Petrochemical on the Senna Princess from Kharg Island, and a 33,000 mt cargo from IGCC from Assaluyeh on board the Schumi, shipping sources said.
The Siamgas cargoes are for delivery to the Chinese port of Shantou, where the Thai trader has a 200,000 cubic meter underground LPG tank farm, sources said. Siamgas also operates the Zhuhai LPG terminal in Guangdong.
Other shipments are smaller lots taken by UAE trading group Al Hussami, shipping sources said. The trader has loaded a 6,000 mt parcel from IGCC on the Sun Rise which sailed from Assaluyeh May 9, and 4,000 mt from IGCC/Kharg Petrochemical from Assaluyeh/Kharg on the Safir I on May 12.
Since then, it has taken four more parcels from Kharg Petrochemical: 6,000 mt on the Sunrise sometime in June, 5,000 mt on the Royal Jade on July 31, 6,000 mt on the Sunrise on August 12, and 6,000 mt also on the Royal Jade on August 24, shipping sources said.
The Sunrise is currently off Sri Lanka, while the Royal Jade is off Fujairah, according to the cFlow tracker.
PCC last month also awarded its second import tender since May, selling 33,000 mt of propane and 11,000 mt of butane at a premium of less than $50/mt to September contract prices for delivery in the second half of September, CFR basis, traders said. Some traders said the cargo could have been bought by South Korea's SK Gas, but this could not be confirmed.
Trade sources also said that the latest sale to China was heard made to Zhangjiagang Oriental for a cargo to be delivered over mid- or H2 September.
Oriental has been taking one Iranian cargo each month comprising 33,000 mt of propane and 11,000 mt of butane since June mainly aboard the Gas Jasmine, sources said. It is building two propane dehydrogenation projects that are due to be completed next year.