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China's Tianjin Bohai PDH plant to get Algeria propane, second after UAE lot

Highlights

China's state-owned Tianjin Bohai Chemical Industry (Group) will receive its second propane cargo, this time from Algeria, ahead of the scheduled start up of its new propane dehydrogenation, or PDH, plant, trade and shipping sources said Thursday.

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The fully laden 44,000-mt cargo aboard the Yuyo Spirits is expected to arrive at China's Tianjin port on August 3 after the VLGC left Arzew El-Djedid port in Algeria on June 29, according to Platts vessel-tracking tool, cFlow. The vessel is currently located off the Chinese coast, north of Taiwan.

The charterer was not immediately known, though some sources said the cargo could be sold through Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp., which set up a strategic partnership with Tianjin Bohai in 2010, under which it is to cooperate with the Chinese firm's project strategy.


China imported 78,921 mt mt of LPG from Algeria in June, but none in May 2013 and June 2012, data from the General Administration of Customs showed, reflecting China's move to widen its supply sources from Persian Gulf producers.

Tianjin Bohai took delivery of its first cargo for the PDH plant on July 2 from Eneos Globe, carrying 44,000 mt of propane from Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., Japan's second-largest LPG supplier, Eneos, had said. Traders had said Eneos sold that cargo via Marubeni.

The propane cargoes will be used as feedstock for the PDH plant, which some sources said could delay its start up by a month till October, though this could not be immediately confirmed.

Tianjin Bohai, a public company owned by the Tianjin City government, and one of the major general chemical firms in the industry, had also concluded term deals to ship in one propane cargo every two months from August 2013 until 2019 from the US Gulf Coast LPG export terminal operated by Targa Resources, sources said. The deal was done via trading firm Everglory.

But so far trade sources have not yet seen any fixtures from the US to Tianjin under these contracts.

China imported 44,894 mt of LPG form the US in June, customs data showed. According to cFlow, the VLGC Devon arrived with a spot cargo from Houston at Guangdong on June 6 and later at Zhapu port, near Shanghai, on June 13. No US cargoes were imported into China in May.

China also received two LPG cargoes from Iran in June and one in July, the first deliveries from the Islamic Republic since February this year. Another cargo from Iran is also expected to arrive next month into China, shipping sources said. US LPG FLOWS TO NORTH EAST ASIA EXPECTED TO RISE

Traders also said the flows of US LPG to North Asia were continuing in recent months and into August. Following the arrival of two VLGCs -- the Ronald N, Yamabuki -- into Japanese ports around late July, traders are expecting three more to arrive in August from the US and Caribbean.

The Sunny Vista, which left Houston July 7, is now near the Cape of Good Hope en-route to Singapore, and is expected to arrive in Japan around end-August, shipping sources said.

Japanese trader Astomos is taking the Toyoso Maru from Taboga Island via the Panama Canal to the Japanese port of Chiba due August 11, according to cFlow and trade sources.

The vessel Lotus Gas has also left Taboga Island July 26 for a voyage to Uraga, in Tokyo Bay, and is due to arrive around August 19, cFlow showed.

Shipping sources said that a European trader has also fixed the Maersk Virtue for a voyage from Houston to East Asia. The vessel is now on the way to Bonny in Nigeria and is due to arrive August 5, according to cFlow.

Traders are also watching the vessel Kobai, which is currently nearing the Cape of Good Hope and would be moving to Houston mid-August for a possible voyage to East Asia.

Other vessels which may be heading East from Houston are the Mill House, which is currently in the Caribbean, and Karoline N, which left Houston July 27, according to shipping sources and cFlow.

US propane exports touched a record peak of 9.54 million barrels in May, up about 12% from April and 112% from May last year, data from the Energy Information Administration showed. US propane exports mainly go to South and Latin America, Europe and increasingly to North East Asia.

--Ramthan Hussain, ramthan.hussain@platts.com

--Edited by Haripriya Banerjee, haripriya.banerjee@platts.com