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Global Seaborne Imports Up By 5.5% During the First Seven Months of 2021

Strong LPG trade, with India’s LPG imports a significant factor has helped propel LPG tanker companies forward, during the first half of the year. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “global LPG trade remained fairly positive in 2020, despite the global economic impact from COVID-19, and surged strongly in the first half of 2021. Total seaborne imports of LPG in 2020 increased by +0.9% year-onyear to 137.48 mln tonnes, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv”.

According to the shipbroker, “in the first 7 months of 2021, global seaborne LPG imports increased by a much stronger +5.5% y-o-y, to 82.6 mln tonnes. This was up from the 78.3 mln tonnes in the same period of 2020, and also up from the 79.1 mln tonnes in Jan-Jul 2019 and the 75.9 mln tonnes in Jan-Jul 2018. Nevertheless, these totals mask significant differences in demand from the various importers. In Jan-Jul 2021, LPG imports to Mainland China increased by an exceptional +31.1% y-o-y to 15.59 mln tonnes, from 11.89 mln tonnes in the same period of 2020”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

Banchero Costa added that “mainland China has now overtaken the European Union as the top importer of LPG in the world. Mainland China now accounts for 18.9% of global seaborne LPG trade, ahead of the EU27 with 15.4%. The EU itself saw very flat imports of 12.69 mln tonnes in Jan-Jul 2021, a marginal -0.1% y-o-y from 12.70 in the same period last year. Imports to Japan improved by +3.8% y-o-y to 6.16 mln tonnes in the first 7 months of 2021. Imports to South Korea in the same period also improved by +0.9% y-o-y to 4.74 mln tonnes. Let’s now focus on India, which until 2020 was the country showing the strongest growth. In the whole of 2020, India imported 17.06 mln tonnes of LPG, which represented a +11.5% y-o-y increase”.

“2021 so far has been more modest, with India importing 9.56 mln tonnes in the first 7 months of the year, up just +2.3% y-o-y, although one must consider the base effect from the strong 2020 figures. In 2021 so far, India accounted for 11.6% of global seaborne LPG trade. Things have been quite volatile across quarters. In the first 3 months of 2020, India imported 4.05 mln tonnes of LPG, down -0.3% y-o-y on the same period of 2019. 2Q 2020 saw shipments of 4.01 mln tonnes to India, in what is seasonally a weak quarter, up +20.0% y-o-y. In 3Q 2020, imports increased to 4.60 mln tonnes, which was still up +20.4% y-o-y from 3Q 2019. The fourth quarter of 2020 was again very good. Imports into India remained at 4.40 mln tonnes, which was +7.9% y-o-y from the same period of 2019. Things cooled down at the start of 2021. 1Q 2021 saw 4.10 mln tonnes, up just +1.4% y-o-y. The second quarter of 2021 was actually very poor, with just 3.79 mln tonnes, down -5.4% y-o-y. July 2021 was however again very strong, with 1.67 mln tonnes that month, up a solid +29.6% y-o-y from July 2020”, the shipbroker noted.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

Banchero Costa concluded that “when it comes to sources of LPG to India, it is primarily the Middle East which in Jan-Jul 2021 accounted for a combined 86.8% of the LPG imported into India. That said, shipments from the Middle East to India actually declined by -2.8% y-o-y so far this year. From this region, the biggest supplier to India is Qatar, with 2.99 mln tonnes in the first 7 months of 2021, up +6.1% y-o-y. They are followed by the UAE with 2.55 mln tonnes, up +6.9% y-o-y. Saudi Arabia however saw a decline by -12.6% y-o-y to 1.76 mln tonnes. On the other hand, the biggest increase has been from the USA. Shipments to India from the USA jumped by +137.2% y-o-y to 0.83 mln tonnes in Jan-Jul 2021. The USA now account for 8.7% of India LPG imports”, the shipbroker concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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