UPDATE 1-U.S. shale boom to boost LPG exports, bring down prices

Mon Nov 4, 2013 7:59am EST
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* US LPG exports seen 350,000 b/d in 2015 vs 196,000 2012

* Surplus US LPG ouput to put pressure on Saudi prices

* Panama Canal expansion to make Asia more accessible

By Henning Gloystein

LONDON, Nov 4 (Reuters) - A U.S. energy drilling boom is revolutionising the niche market for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), bringing down global prices and challenging established exporters in the Middle East.

The changes are the latest sign of the global impact of a drilling renaissance in the United States that has already hit oil and natural gas. And like oil and gas, it is U.S. LPG producers who are set to gain the most, while established exporters may struggle with new competition in a suddenly altered landscape.

While LPG has been trading for many decades, the U.S. production boom is now attracting big trading houses on a larger scale.

"We are very involved in LPG, and we've taken substantial long-term positions," Ian Taylor, president and CEO of energy and commodities trading major Vitol Group told Reuters in an interview on Monday. LPG is an easier growth market than other booming energy sectors such as liquefied natural gas, he added.

Unconventional oil and gas drilling, including shale gas extraction from fracking, is controversial because it requires large amounts of water and chemicals to be pumped at high pressure into the earth, and some countries such as France and Bulgaria have banned the technology.   Continued...