SThe strong LPG trade, along with LPG imports from India, significantly helped propel LPG transport companies in the first half of the year. In its latest weekly report, shipping broker Banchero Costa said that âglobal LPG trade remained fairly positive in 2020, despite the global economic impact of COVID-19, and increased sharply in the first half of 2021. Total imports LPG by sea in 2020 increased by + 0.9% year on year to 137.48 mln tonnes, according to Refinitiv’s vessel monitoring data â.
According to the shipping broker, âin the first 7 months of 2021, global LPG imports by sea grew at a much higher rate of + 5.5% year-on-year, to reach 82.6 million tonnes . This is an increase from 78.3 million tonnes in the same period in 2020, as well as 79.1 million tonnes in January-July 2019 and 75.9 million tonnes in January- July 2018. However, these totals mask significant differences in demand compared to various importers. From January to July 2021, LPG imports to mainland China increased by an exceptional rate of + 31.1% year-on-year to 15.59 mln tonnes, compared to 11.89 mln tonnes during the same period of 2020 â.
Banchero Costa added that âMainland China has now overtaken the European Union as the world’s largest importer of LPG. Mainland China now accounts for 18.9% of global LPG maritime trade, ahead of the EU27 with 15.4%. The EU itself recorded very stable imports of 12.69 mln tonnes from January to July 2021, a marginal margin of -0.1% year on year compared to 12.70 in the same period of the year. last. Imports to Japan improved + 3.8% yoy to 6.16 mln tonnes in the first 7 months of 2021. Imports to South Korea during the same period also improved by + 0.9% year-on-year to 4.74 mln tonnes. Now let’s focus on India, which until 2020 was the fastest growing country. Over the whole of 2020, India imported 17.06 million tonnes of LPG, which represents an increase of + 11.5% year-on-year â.
âSo far 2021 has been more modest, with India importing 9.56 million tonnes in the first 7 months of the year, up only + 2.3% year-on-year, although consider the base effect of good 2020 numbers. In 2021 so far India accounted for 11.6% of global LPG trade by sea. Things have been quite volatile quarter over quarter. In the first 3 months of 2020, India imported 4.05 mln tonnes of LPG, down -0.3% year-on-year from the same period of 2019. 2Q 2020 saw shipments of 4.01 mln tonnes to India, in a weak seasonal quarter, up + 20.0% year-on-year. In 3Q 2020, imports increased to 4.60 mln tonnes, which is still up + 20.4% year-on-year compared to 3Q 2019. The fourth quarter of 2020 was again very good. Imports into India remained at 4.40 mln tonnes, or + 7.9% year-on-year compared to the same period of 2019. Things calmed down at the start of 2021. Q1 2021 saw 4.10 mln tonnes, up only + 1.4% year-on-year. The second quarter of 2021 was actually very poor, at just 3.79 million tonnes, down -5.4% year-on-year. July 2021 was however again very solid, with 1.67 mln tonnes this month, a solid increase of + 29.6% year on year compared to July 2020 â, noted the shipping broker.
Banchero Costa concluded that âwhen it comes to LPG sources in India, it is mainly the Middle East which, from January to July 2021, accounted for 86.8% of the LPG imported into India. That said, shipments from the Middle East to India have actually declined -2.8% year-on-year so far this year. From this region, India’s biggest supplier is Qatar, with 2.99 mln tonnes in the first 7 months of 2021, up + 6.1% year-on-year. They are followed by the United Arab Emirates with 2.55 mln tonnes, up + 6.9% year-on-year. Saudi Arabia, however, recorded a decline of -12.6% year-on-year to 1.76 mln tonnes. On the other hand, the biggest increase came from the United States. Shipments to India from the United States jumped + 137.2% year-on-year to 0.83 mln tonnes in January-July 2021. The United States now accounts for 8.7% of Indian imports of LPG â, concluded the shipping broker.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide