SEOUL Nov 8 South Korea's E1 Corp
will import 180,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) made
from U.S. shale gas in 2014 to lower its dependence on suppliers
from the Middle East, a company spokesman said.
The transaction will mark the first time the firm has
shipped in LPG produced from U.S. shale gas, although South
Korea has imported it previously.
The agreement highlights the increasingly important role a
U.S. shale boom is playing in the global energy market,
providing energy-hungry buyers such as South Korea with an
alternative source of supply.
"The import decision was made to reduce our dependence on
the Middle East and diversify our suppliers," the spokesman told
Reuters by phone on Thursday, noting the Middle East currently
accounts for more than 80 percent of the company's LPG imports.
He denied that the step had been taken due to the cloudy
outlook for LPG imports from Iran, however.
European Union sanctions on Iran's natural gas have
unintentionally brought its exports of LPG to a near halt,
industry sources have said.
LPG comes mainly from oil than natural gas, but shippers and
insurers are steering clear of Iranian supplies due to
uncertainty over the scope of the new EU sanctions, which, along
with steps by the U.S., are designed to pressure Tehran over its
disputed nuclear programme.
E1's deal with Enterprise Products Operating LLC, a
subsidiary of U.S. gas firm Enterprise Products Partners
, would amount to 6.7 percent of its total 2011 LPG
imports of 2.7 million tonnes, said the spokesman, who declined
to be named. Propane and butane are both kinds of LPG.
Pricing has yet to be decided and E1 does not know if it
will continue imports of LPG sourced from U.S. shale gas in
2015, he added.
South Korea and Norwegian energy giant Statoil were
the main buyers of Iranian LPG until the EU sanctions kicked in.