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LPG Ship Rates Jump to Seven-Month High as U.S. Cargoes Expand

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Earnings for the largest ships hauling liquefied petroleum gases such as propane rose to the highest in seven months as the U.S. expands exports and European manufacturers switch to the cheaper feedstock.

Rates for very large gas carriers jumped 25 percent this month to $59.88 a metric ton, figures from the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of shipping costs, showed today. That’s the highest since Oct. 2.

Chemical makers in Europe are using propane instead of more expensive naphtha, spurring imports from the U.S. and Middle East, according to Knut Stangebye Olsen, an Oslo-based analyst at shipping consultant Lorentzen & Stemoco AS. The U.S. is exporting more LPG than ever as a byproduct of rising oil and gas output, Energy Department data show.

“It’s surprising that it’s picking up that quickly,” Stangebye Olsen said by phone today. “U.S. tons are hitting the market at higher rates.”

Enterprise Products Partners LP expanded capacity at its Houston export facility to 7.5 million barrels a month from 3 million as of March. The U.S. shipped a record 71.9 million barrels last year, according to Energy Department data.

Naphtha in northeast Europe fell 11 percent this year to $832.50 a ton and propane dropped 22 percent to $700.50 a ton, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in London at iarnsdorf@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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