LPG volumes traded outside of term agreements in the Mideast Gulf are on track to double this year compared with 2014, as increasing production from Qatar and North America gives consumers across Asia-Pacific the option to secure more spot cargoes available at short notice.
More than 1.2mn t of propane and butane has been exported in spot cargoes so far this year from Middle East ports, compared with about 1mn t for the whole of 2014. LPG buyers in Asia-Pacific are increasing spot imports from the Middle East while reducing their term commitments, after the shale revolution allowed US suppliers to increase their market share in countries such as Japan and South Korea during the past two years.
Increasing LPG trade in the Middle East open market has led to the emergence of a new trading segment, independent of prices set by producers for term contracts. This emerging market has also boosted transparency in price discovery, allowing global energy and commodity news and price reporting agency Argus to launch the Argus Middle East Index (AMEI) this month. AMEI is a daily price for propane and butane sold from Middle East ports based on market activity.
“We are delighted to see liquidity developing in this market and hope that the transparency that Argus brings to the pricing of these spot volumes will serve as a springboard for further market development,” Argus Media chairman and publisher Adrian Binks said.
Argus produces the Argus Far East Index™ (AFEI™), the leading spot daily benchmark price for delivered LPG cargoes to the northeast Asian market.