Global Propane: Growing Demand in 2011

The global propane outlook? Four continents are thirsty for the gas. (image: apple via flickr.com)

Here’s a safe bet about the global propane market next year: Demand will be up.

In the last week, headlines on four continents have pointed to a growing thirst for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). And it’s coming from a range of users, large and small. There’s a shortage of propane for Christmas cooking in Kenya, and the national Saudi oil company wants more LPG to stay home in 2011 for domestic. Meantime, a growing market for propane-powered vehicles will drive demand, as car owners around the world look for cheaper alternatives to gas. (Side note: Overseas, they like to call propane “autogas” when it’s powering a car.)

So if three is a trend, six is a … double trend? Here’s a roundup of recent international propane stories, going east to west.

New Zealand: One of the country’s largest utilities, Contact Energy, added 3,000 propane customers in the last month — its only consistently growing service sector this year, says the business site at Stuff.

Philippines: The department of energy urged car owners to switch to autogas in response to high gas prices, according to the Manila Bulletin. And making an unusual argument for propane-powered vehicles, one officials claims LPG-cars are faster than standard gas cars.

Pakistan: The country made its single largest import of propane ever, an order of 5,000 tons that beat out the previous high of 3,600 tons, reports the Express Tribune.

Saudi Arabia: The national oil company, Saudi Aramco, announced that its 2011 LPG exports will drop 23.5 percent to meet domestic needs, mostly from its petrochemical industry, according to Platts.

Kenya: Retail prices for propane rise, over a “severe shortage” of the gas for cooking, says the Daily Nation. The government blames rampant piracy on the Indian Ocean for scaring propane-bearing tankers away from the port in Mombasa.

Turkey: The country’s largest LPG-conversion company says business is up almost 20-percent this year, prompted by rising oil prices, according to the Anatolia News Agency. Mehmet Ali Atiker, chairman of Atiker Autogas Systems, claims that 40-percent of vehicles on the streets of Turkey have LPG systems.

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