Europe cold snap puts pressure on propane supplies

15 March 2013 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Prices for propane firmed this week as demand for heating purposes dug into already low stocks, sources said on Friday.

Propane barge prices firmed by $130/tonne (€100/tonne) on a FOB (free on board) ARA (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp) basis to $860-870/tonne FOB ARA.

Prices for propane coasters and cargoes in northwest Europe and the Mediterranean saw smaller increases of around $50-60/tonne.

According to a producer, recent propane prices – which have been low compared to naphtha – strengthened as a result of strong demand from the petrochemical sector, where it has been the feedstock of choice for much of the industry.

However, low refinery output and the recent petrochemical buying has created a short market, with participants struggling to source tonnes.

Conversely, the butane market is relatively well balanced, with sources describing supply as reasonable amid softer demand.

A source said there is little demand for large butane cargoes, but coasters are picking up the petrochemical demand.

Another source added there is some petrochemical demand occurring for special chemicals, but demand from blenders is at the end of the season.

Prices for butane were stable to softer, with prices on a CIF (cost, insurance and freight) basis softening by around $5-35/tonne in both northwest Europe and the Mediterranean.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Kate Wilcock
+44 208 652 3214

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