The U.S. and the International Propane Market
- Robert G. Paszkiewicz (Jensen Assocs. Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- June 1982
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,191 - 1,198
- 1982. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.4 Gas Processing, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.6.2 Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)
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The amount of propane available for export will double in this decade. Traditional demands and new price-sensitive demands will be inadequate to absorb these additional volumes. A review of major import markets leads to the conclusion that distress propane volumes will find their way into the general industrial fuel markets of the U.S. gulf coast.
The worldwide market for propane in the 1980's will undergo a major transformation in the traditional patterns of supply. demand. and price that have characterized past trade in this international commodity. In 1980, exports of propane were approximately 135 MMbbl (21.5 x 10(6) m3) with 80% supplied by Canada and Middle Eastern countries. The bulk of this trade went to just two countries-Japan and the U.S. By the end of this decade, the supply of propane available from producing countries in excess of their domestic needs is expected to more than double. The absorption of this additional supply understandably will necessitate significant changes in the current structure of the international propane market. Evaluating the impact on the international market of a doubting of supply is complicated by the secondary nature of production and demand for propane. On the supply side. propane is a by-product of other activities, either refinery processing or liquids extraction from natural gas. On the demand side, propane currently faces competition in the markets it serves from other fuels that are capable of completely fulfilling these customer needs. New markets that will be necessary to absorb the incremental volumes will have to be developed in markets presently served by prima fuels such as distillate, residual oil, and natural gas. Despite these difficulties, the following analysis justifies three conclusions about the international propane market in the 1980's. First, total propane available for export will increase by 137% with North Africa emerging as a major source of supply. Second, growth in existing markets and demands from new markets arising from a softness in propane prices will be insufficient to absorb these incremental volumes throughout most of the 1980's. Third, the distress supplies of propane available will find their way into the general industrial fuel markets of the U.S. east and gulf coasts.
The amount of propane in excess of the internal needs of petroleum- and natural-gas-producing countries will increase substantially during the 1980's. The major producing nations of the world, particularly in the Middle East, for many years have been flaring the gases produced in association with crude oil. Most of these nations have begun or have completed investment programs to capture, process, and use these associated gases. While the lighter hydrocarbons, ethane and methane, typically will be used internally in each producing nation, the heavier products such as propane and butane are destined for the export markets. Adding significantly to these volumes of propane and butane produced in association with crude oil will be liquids extracted from natural gas streams. Algerian expansion plans for international trade in natural gas either as liquefied natural gas (LNG) or by pipeline to Europe are a prime example.
On the basis of a review of these production facilities, Jensen Assocs. has forecast that the amount of propane available on the international market will be 300 to 320 MMbbl/yr (47.7 to 50.8 X 10(6) m3/yr) during 1985-90. We believe this is a conservative forecast in that it includes only production capability with a high degree of certainty associated with its coming onstream.
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