China buys Norwegian LPG

November 9, 2001, 09:30 CET

Recently Statoil sold a shipment of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to China, which has purchased a total of around 90,000 tonnes of LPG from Norway this autumn.

The volume, which is equivalent to the total annual consumption of the petroleum gases propane and butane in Norway, will meet the needs of around seven million Chinese consumers for about one month, reports Thor Abrahamsen, department manager for LPG trading. The Chinese use propane and butane mainly for heating and cooking, as alternatives to wood and coal.

The latest shipment to China was delivered from Mongstad near Bergen. This is the first time that Statoil has transported LPG from that plant. Two rock caverns that were built in connection with Vestprosess make it possible to build up stocks at Mongstad over a 20-day period, and thereby fill a supertanker with 45,000 tonnes of the gases.

Statoil also sells LPG from the gas treatment plant at Kårstø north of Stavanger, from Teesside in the UK and from the Kalundborg refinery near Copenhagen in Denmark.

In contrast to Europe and the USA, Asia currently has insufficient butane and propane. The price is highest in China, which is stockpiling for the winter. The 40-day journey by specialised carrier from northern Europe to the Far East is therefore worthwhile, adds Mr Abrahamsen.

Propane, butane and other petroleum gases are separated from natural gas, but they can also be by-products from the refining process.