Record liquefied-petroleum-gas shipments are eroding a glut of the tankers hauling the fuel used in stoves, cars and lighters, driving charter rates to the highest ever at a time when most other ships are losing money.
The surge in supply is a consequence of expanding natural gas output and oil refining, which produce LPGs as a byproduct.Demand for LPG is strengthening now because consumers are expanding stockpiles before the Northern Hemisphere’s winter begins.
The process of extracting natural gas destined for liquefaction yields about 5 percent propane and a similar amount of butane or ethane, according to the Paris-based World LP Gas Association. Liquefied natural gas is produced by cooling gas to about minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit. A barrel of crude typically yields about 3 percent LPGs when it is refined, accounting for about 40 percent of global LPG supply.