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%.
I know markets are supposedly 24/7 these days, but come on, it’s the holiday season a coming. The market is starting to show signs of easing back, getting programmes sorted and balanced, not taking on any more positions that might need late nights and early mornings sorting out potential problems, instead allowing for late nights and early mornings having fun, albeit in a more thoughtful way, and by the way, that’s not a veiled parallel to our excruciatingly misguided Prince Andrew. But as always there’s bound to be something about to happens that’s going to ruin the party!
I was kindly invited to attend the first Argus LPG Awards for Excellence ceremony, this week in London’s Science Museum. I have to say it was a great success, and was lovely to see such a broad representation of our business, and some worthy winners as well. “You know who” picked up the best trader award, yes I do mean Seb Willems at Glencore, and he’d already got his winner’s speech prepared, that’s why he is #1, it’s all in the preparation! Mary-Jane Hogg deservedly won the executive of the year, and there were awards for Ineos, GE Power and Noreen Howat at Aggreko.
At a recent gathering of the good and the mighty in Athens, I understand a distinguished ship owner was able to hold a relatively straight face when explaining the challenges, or something along those lines, faced by the VLGC ship owners in the current mesmerizingly strong LPG shipping market. I’m sure every investor who boarded the run early, maybe even after reading my summer and autumn SIMON SAYS blogs, is sitting extremely comfortably today as he checks his share portfolio. But what happens next, is there going to be a twist, there usually is!