Indian Government’s thrust on making available LPG cylinders for rural household cooking seems to have been effective. LPG imports from India will increase to 2.4 million tonnes in the month of December surpassing those of China, which stands at 2.3 million tonnes as per information in Thomas Reuters Eikon.
Chief Financial Officer at Dorian LPG, Ted Young stated that he was very impressed by the number of subsidized LPG connections, which increased from 140 million in 2015 to the current 181 million.
LPG, a mixture of butane and propane is used in petrochemical industry, transport and for cooking purposes. The US-based Dorian, with a strength of 22 tankers is one of the world’s leading LPG shippers. The company is expecting a further increase in demand from India because the effect of Indian tax on gasoline is leading to its increased use in cars in the country. The three countries who are major consumers of LPG are China, India and Japan ranking in the same order and making up for 45% of the worldwide demand. However, China’s first place has been usurped by India in the month of December.
So far, the Middle East held the sole monopoly in meeting India’s demands for LPG but the supply scenario seems to be changing with USA emerging as the new player. An increase in shale drilling in the USA has enabled the country to make LPG shipments to India since beginning 2017. This tonnage has increased from 50,000-100,000 tonnes to 200,000+ tonnes by December as per data provided by Eikon. Though this constitutes a very small percentage of shipments from the Middle East, the price competitiveness of US LPG is rising.
The cost of propane is $516 per tonne excluding freight at the Texan Mont Belvieu while the contract price of Middle Eastern LPG is $590 per tonne ex-freight. The price difference has already made its impact in Japan where the USA is supplying almost 50% of the country’s demand.