China data: Feb LPG imports plunge 38% on month, 16% on year to 1.22 mil mt
China imported around 1.22 million mt of LPG in February, down 37.8% from January and 16.1% year on year, data released by the General Administration of Customs on late Tuesday showed.
It exported 91,215 mt of LPG in February, down 7% month on month and 11.4% year on year, the data showed. As a result, China’s net LPG imports in February were down 39.5% month on month and 16.4% year on year at around 1.13 million mt, according to S&P Global Platts calculations based on the customs data.
Fewer LPG cargoes arrived last month amid lower market activity because of public holidays for Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival, market sources said.
Besides, major LPG buyer and propane dehydrogenation plant operator Oriental Energy resold two VLGC cargoes for delivery in February in the international market due to maintenance at its Zhangjiagang PDH plant, leading lower LPG imports last month, sources noted.
The Zhangjiagang PDH plant was interrupted intermittently in February because of technical problems in late January. It was finally shut for maintenance on February 7, Platts reported earlier based on data from domestic information provider JLC.
Platts calculates China’s LPG imports by adding the propane and butane figures to those for “other LPG” under HS code 7111990, aiming to reflect China’s imports of liquefied gases more accurately.
According to the customs department, the definition of “other LPG” is a complex combination of hydrocarbons produced by the distillation of crude oil.
Market sources said it could be mixed gas containing many hydrocarbons, and was mainly imported or exported on trucks. Imports and exports of “other LPG” are much lower than of propane and butane.
Separately, China imported 859,208 mt of propane in February, down 39.1% from January and also down 26.3% year on year.
Butane imports were 347,482 mt in February, down 34.7% from January but up 23.1% year on year.
The pre-tax import cost of LPG, including propane, butane and other LPG, averaged $578/mt in February, down $20/mt from January, according to Platts calculations.
The February import cost equates to around Yuan 4,068/mt ($647.93/mt), after adding customs duty and VAT, compared with around Yuan 4,243/mt in January, according to Platts calculations.
Ningbo overtook Nanjing as the top LPG importing port in February, with a total volume of 250,880 mt, which was, however, down 4% from January.
Qingdao was second with 154,177 mt, up 41.1% from January.
The UAE, the US and Qatar were still the top three LPG suppliers to China in February.
China’s LPG imports from Kuwait were up 24% month on month, at 133,537 mt in February, Platts calculations showed.
Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Macau remained the top four export destinations for China LPG in February.