April shipments were almost up 14 percent from March and will bring the total shipments so far this year to 1.86 million tons, Platts reported.
Most of the April cargoes are again bound for China, followed by Indonesia, India, Thailand and possibly Kenya, according to shipping sources and cFlow, S&P Global Platts trade flow software.
Oriental Energy, which operates propane dehydrogenation plants in China, has lifted a cargo of 34,000 tons of propane and 14,000 tons butane aboard the VLGC Gas Aquarius at Assalouyeh from Iranian Gas Commercial Co. The vessel is due to arrive at Qinzhou April 25, cFlow showed.
OE, which loads its cargoes via a trading entity called Pacific Petrochemical, has also lifted a cargo of 33,000 tons propane and 11,000 tons butane from Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co. at Bandar Imam Khomeini aboard the Pacific Yantai. The vessel, which is now in the Gulf Of Oman, is due to arrive in Ningbo, China on May 12.
OE, also an LPG trader and distributor, early this month sealed an agreement with Hong Kong-based energy trader Kunlun Holding to set up a pool of VLGCs, which is expected to be completed by end May, as well as to cooperate in boosting LPG trade.
Under the deal, OE will manage Kunlun's LPG storage facilities and buy 2.5 million ton per year of LPG from Kunlun between now until 2020.
Based on a related pact, Oriental Petroleum — the controlling shareholder of OE — will transfer its lease for eight VLGC new buildings to Kunlun Shipping, a unit of Kunlun Holding, the company had said.
OE currently owns eight VLGCs while Kunlun has two VLGCS, which ply mainly over the Middle East-China route.
A Middle East shipping source said that Kunlun recently signed purchase contracts to lift three cargoes per month from Iran. Under the deal with PGPICC, it will lift two cargoes/month, and with IGCC, it will take one cargo per month.
These liftings from Iran come as OE was recently ordered by a Texas state district court to pay $523.8 million in damages to Germany's Mabanaft following an LPG contract dispute. Siding with Mabanaft last October, the court had ruled that OE had breached its contract by failing to provide a letter of credit ahead of its first scheduled shipment of propane from the US Gulf.
China also plans to raise import duty on US propane to 25 percent — a retaliatory move that threatens to worsen the US-China trade war if it is implemented — which traders and analysts said could shift China's import focus to the Middle East, including Iran.
Trading firm Triliance has lifted aboard the Gas Crystal a 44,000-ton propane cargo from IGCC at Assalouyeh. The vessel is due to arrive in Guangdong May 4 and is currently off the southern coast of India, according to cFlow.
The VLGC Gas Jasmine, chartered by trading firm Global Reality, is near Bandar Imam Khomeini to lift this week a cargo from PGPICC comprising 33,000 tons of propane and 11,000 tons butane, shipping sources said.
The destination was not yet known but the vessel had been making trips to Fangcheng and Guangdong over the past one year, cFlow showed.
Thai trading firm Siam Gas has two vessels that have lifted Iranian LPG. The VLGC Ming Ming departed from Assalouyeh April 5 with a PGPICC cargo comprising 33,000 tons of propane and 11,000 butane and arrived at Sri Racha April 19, cFlow showed.
The VLGC Ming De, which was carrying a 44,000 tons IGCC cargo, had left southern Thailand last week and is now en route to the Persian Gulf.
Naftiran Intertrade Co., a unit of National Iranian Oil Co., lifted a cargo of 33,000 tons of propane and 11,000 tons butane from IGCC at Assalouyeh in early April aboard the Gas Venture, which was formerly EverRich 8. The vessel is now off port limits at Mumbai.
LPG for Indonesia
Iranian cargoes continued to be shipped to Indonesia in April via international trading companies, even as the Indonesian Trade Ministry and Iranian government conducted negotiations over the renewal of the contract that was first sealed for cargo deliveries over 2016-17.
International trading firm Petredec has taken a 44,000-ton evenly split cargo from IGCC aboard the Pacific Shanghai, which departed from Assalouyeh April 1.
The vessel arrived at Indonesia's Teluk Semangka April 12 and left last week for Assalouyeh, where it is due to arrive this week, cFlow showed. The vessel has made several similar trips this year.
Petredec also lifted aboard the BW Elm a 44,000-ton evenly split cargo from IGCC at Assalouyeh April 14. The VLGC is due to arrive at Teluk Semangka Wednesday.
Petredec is due to lift another 44,000-ton evenly split cargo from IGCC at Assalouyeh aboard the Gas Aries, though its destination was not immediately known. The vessel, which is now in the Gulf of Oman, departed from Haldia, India on April 6.
Trading firm Gunvor's BW Mindoro departed Assalouyeh on April 18 with a 45,000-ton evenly split cargo from IGCC. The vessel is slated to arrive at the Indonesian port of Tanjung Uban near Singapore this week.
International trading firm Glencore is due to lift aboard the 28,100 dwt SeaSpeed at Bandar Imam Khomeini, an unspecified cargo from PGPICC. The vessel had previously made several trips to Mombasa, Kenya.