Rumours surfacing, resurfacing, announcements, pronouncements, you guessed it, it’s OPEC time again. It seems more and more the case that whatever OPEC announces our attention in the LPG world, and for that matter the rest of the energy market, switches to Saudi Arabia, and whether Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has said anything, he normally has to!
Throughout most of the SIMON SAYs blogs produced so far I’ve concentrated on the refrigerated LPG market, transported mainly on very large gas carriers (VLGCs), between continents and across large spans of water, to get the supplies to their end destination. Of the approximately 105 million Mt of LPG shipped by sea, the movements by VLGC account for about 70-75 per cent of this trade, but what are the reasons for the other quarter of seaborne volumes being moved by other modes of transport, and what are the striking differences.
I’ve always been fascinated with the way deals are done, the process of negotiation between two parties, maybe with someone in the middle, maybe not. It can be exciting, frustrating, win some, lose some. I think I was more a guy who wanted compromise, while I ended up doing deals with a number of traders hanging out for the last cent, even though I’m sure I would have done more with them if only they had shown a sign of compromise, it’s always good to blame the other party.
Although last week was shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday, a few more pieces seemed to be falling into place in the U.S., and for that matter when moving out of the U.S. as well. If we then add in a few what might or might not happen questions, it was actually an eventful last week of November. Then came the attention on the U.S. from Asia, concern may be, as well as from a small number of trading houses nestling in the major cities of Europe. But why the concern?
It was a late night, early morning, and I was still digesting my turkey, corn-bread stuffing and pecan pie, when I realized it was “Black Friday”, fortunately for me my wife hadn’t. Oh, by the way the Thanksgiving dinner was great, but of the 20 people invited, there wasn’t an American in sight. So, as we enter December will Black Friday discounts start to have the same influence on the LPG market, I don’t think so, it’s still looking as if the buyers are having to step up to the mark, and maybe more.
I hope it’s been a good Thanksgiving for producers, mid-streamers, exporters, consumers, in fact anyone connected with the U.S. NGL business. I was pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one linking propane to Thanksgiving, as I came across a lovely website and a blog produced by Blue Rhino, who appear to be an “exchange of cylinder” driven retailer. Well they have published a blog called “The Beginner’s Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving Meal”, and in the first paragraph they have mentioned the word “grill” 4 times, just to make sure I have an idea of what’s coming next.
So, we are getting even closer to the implementation of IMO 2020’s Sulphur cap, I bet you’re all prepared and excited to see what happens next, I certainly am! I think ship owners have made their minds up about both the short-term switches they have to make, as well as fueling decisions for future new buildings, especially VLGCs. The big question though is what will sit in the middle for those who have basically said they will “suck it and see”. The buzz is certainly dual fuel, and maybe it will also be part of the reality.
After a few years in the wilderness, and I do mean living on the Isle of Wight by the way, I was quite taken aback one day when two industry jargons were used in a flourish, as if I should have known exactly what they meant, one was “PRONAP” and the other was “FEIMOPJ”. Once I had worked out what they represented, I was then fascinated to know how they traded in the market.
As Thanksgiving holidays approach over in the U.S., we’re experiencing this paradox of having the signs of winter in the midcontinent, stocks dropping over 6 million barrels throughout the U.S. in the last two weeks, but propane exports have just hit a season’s high, with over 1.36 million barrels moving over the docks in the U.S. Gulf, U.S. east and west coasts. Mont Belvieu propane prices have surged on the back of not only the cold weather, but also the hefty export volumes, ending up close to 56 cents/ gallon, while the market was below 40 cents/gallon only 3 months ago, that’s up 40%.