Washington, DC – US shipments of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to Latin America have increased five-fold since 2007, edging out more expensive exports from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
According to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Latin America imported about 206,000 barrels per day (bpd) of US-sourced LPG in 2013, up from 38,000 bpd in 2007.
The agency said that the lack of industrial capacity and stagnant natural gas production in Latin America – particularly Venezuela – means there is too little LPG to satisfy voracious demand, while the shale boom in the US has created a growing surplus of LPG, namely propane, butane and isobutane.
US producers are reportedly offering lower prices than other major exporters with buyers in Brazil and Chile signing supply contracts with a number of US providers.
LPG is produced from the natural gas liquids that are processed at fractioning plants to separate methane from other more-valued gases, such as butane and propane.
Total US LPG exports rose 482 percent since 2007 to 332,000 bpd last year. Analysts forecast some 450,000 bpd in exports this year and 800,000 bpd by 2018.
Venezuela, which once exported LPG to neighbors but has suffered production declines, has been importing since 2012 while Ecuador imported 88 percent of its LPG last year, spending $700 million in subsidies, the EIA said.