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Iran's Aug LPG exports leap to 568,000 mt, highest since last sanctions ended

Singapore — Iran's LPG shipments loaded, or due for lifting, in August rose by 84,000 mt versus July to around 568,000 mt, the highest since the previous Western sanctions for its nuclear program were lifted in January 2016, fixtures from shipping sources showed recently.

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The majority of the shipments are destined for China, where importers are grappling with higher import tariffs for US LPG in an escalating trade war, and are scrambling for Middle Eastern cargoes instead.

The jump in Iranian exports also came ahead of the re-imposition of sanctions by the US. International buyers of Iranian oil have till November 4 to wind down contracts before Washington re-imposes sanctions on the oil, energy, shipping and insurance sectors, a US Treasury Department fact sheet showed.

Beijing and Tehran, meanwhile, have agreed to bolster strategic cooperation during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to China in June.

Yet, some traders remained concerned that if US sanctions resumed in November, Chinese importers might stop taking LPG from Iran and seek even more alternatives from other Middle East sources, which could further drive up cargo prices from that region.

This month, Chinese importers had snapped up spot LPG cargoes offered by Middle Eastern producers, and have recently resold a number of cargoes which traders said could be of US origin, as China prepared to impose a 25% tariff on US propane and butane imports, which kicked in last Thursday.

ALSO BOUND FOR THAILAND, INDIA

The July program takes Iran exports so far this year to 3.71 million mt, according to shipping fixtures.

Other than China, other destinations possibly include Thailand and India, according to shipping sources and cFlow, S&P Global Platts' ship tracking software.

Trading company Global Reality has loaded a cargo comprising 33,000 mt of propane and 11,000 butane from Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co., or PGPICC, aboard the VLGC Gas Jasmine which left Bandar Imam Khomeini on August 4. It arrived at Fangcheng port in southern China on August 25, cFlow showed.

Trading company Triliance lifted at Bandar Imam Khomeini a 44,000 mt evenly split cargo from PGPICC aboard the LPG Scorpio, which departed August 9, and is due to arrive at Guangdong August 29, cFlow showed.

Naftiran Intertrade Co., or NICO, a unit of National Iranian Oil Co., has lifted aboard the LPG Capricorn, a 44,000 mt propane cargo from Iranian Gas Commercial Co., or IGCC, which sailed from Assaluyeh August 19. The VLGC is due to arrive in Guangdong September 4, cFlow showed.

NICO has also lifted at Assaluyeh aboard the Indian-flagged VLGC Takao Gas, formerly Gas Sapphire, a 44,000 mt propane cargo from IGCC. The vessel, which is now in the Gulf of Oman, is bound for Ennore on the Indian east coast, cFlow showed.

NICO was also expected to lift an unknown cargo from IGCC at Assaluyeh this week aboard the VLGC Venture Gas, which is managed by Great Eastern Shipping, cFlow showed.

Thai trader Siam Gas' vessel Ming De left Assaluyeh August 5 with a 44,000 mt evenly split cargo from PGPICC. The vessel arrived at the Thai port of Sri Racha near Bangkok on August 23 and left the next day, cFlow showed.

Siam Gas was due to lift a cargo comprising 33,000 mt of propane and 11,000 mt butane from IGCC at Assaluyeh aboard the VLGC De Hua on August 25, according to cFlow. Its destination is not known.

The Thai trader has lifted a similar cargo from IGCC aboard the VLGC Ming Ming, which departed from Assaluyeh on August 14 and was bound for Sri Racha and then to Guangdong on August 30, cFlow showed.

Siam Gas is taking a PGPICC cargo comprising 33,000 mt of propane and 11,000 mt butane aboard the EverRich 10 at Bandar Imam Khomeini. The vessel is due to arrive in Shantou on September 10, cFlow showed.

Trading company Pacific Petrochemical's 49,874 mt vessel, Sea Gloria, is scheduled to lift a cargo at Assaluyeh, though the destination is not yet known.

Pacific Petrochemical has lifted aboard the VLGC Pacific Weihai a 44,000 mt evenly split cargo from PGPICC, which left Assaluyeh August 10. The vessel has left Qinzhou in southern China August 25 and is due to arrive in Ningbo on August 28, cFlow showed.

Pacific Petrochemical's Hong Kong-flagged vessel Pacific Rizhao left Assaluyeh August 21 with a cargo comprising 30,000 mt propane and 10,000 mt butane from IGCC. The vessel is due to arrive in Ningbo on September 9, cFlow showed.

Pacific Petrochemical is also due to lift an unknown cargo from Kharg Petrochemical Co. aboard the VLGC Gas Danuta. The vessel is now in the Gulf of Oman due for Fujairah, before which it had departed from Zhangjiagang on August 5, cFlow showed.

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

--Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy, geetha.narayanasamy@spglobal.com