Renewed LPG demand growth in India and China will lead to growth of US exports later this year, according to ESAI Energy’s newly published Global NGL Outlook. Since exports have bumped up against capacity constraints, the timely completion of new LPG export terminals in the US and Canada will be vital to this export growth. Stronger demand has implications for propane and butane prices, whose discounts to naphtha have widened considerably.
As the year 2019 progresses, strengthening demand in India and China will lead to higher US LPG exports, according to ESAI Energy’s 12-month outlook.
As the report describes, Indian demand growth has already emerged from its 2018 slump. Annual demand growth in that country will jump to 60,000 b/d after falling to a 5-year low in 2018. Given that the country’s supply will barely grow this year, imports will be needed to meet almost all the new demand.
Demand in China, until recently the locomotive of global demand, fell in the second half of 2018 and barely changed so far in 2019. Following in India’s footsteps, the near-term commissioning of PDH and NGL-fed ethylene units in China will to lead to renewed growth in that country.
“Due to the US-China trade dispute, China will import more LPG from Middle East and Asian sources,” explains ESAI Energy Head of NGLs Andrew Reed. “However, there will be greater demand for US product to swap into other Asian markets as non-US product is swapped into the Chinese market. Between bullish Asian demand and new LPG terminals in Western Canada and the US Gulf Coast that eliminate export bottlenecks, developments will provide a boost to Mont Belvieu propane and butane prices.”