Russia's Sibur steps up LPG ship-to-ship transfers to serve Asia

MOSCOW, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Sibur, Russia's largest liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) exporter, has stepped up ship-to-ship (STS) transfers at European ports to create larger cargoes that mean it can make money on sales to Asia, according to traders and Refinitiv Eikon data.

Sibur used to supply most of its LPG to the European market. But since spring, demand for its products in northwest Europe has fallen due to Western sanctions against Russia's financial sector, which have complicating dealings with the country's energy companies, and so-called self-sanctioning by EU buyers.

Neither Sibur, nor Russian LPG generally, is subject to Western sanctions, but European customers have cut back purchases, leading the company to look for buyers elsewhere.

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STS operations help Sibur reload LPG from standard gas tankers carrying 10,000-12,000 tonnes to VLGC (very large gas carriers) that can carry about 50,000 tonnes of LPG.

Shipping higher volumes helps Sibur offset higher costs for delivering the product to Asia, making profits closer to what it used to make in northwest Europe, traders said.

In July, Sibur supplied four cargoes of 11,000 tonnes each from Russia's Ust-Luga port to an STS facility in Rotterdam, from where it shipped the product on VLGC Eiger Explorer with 44,000 LPG onboard to Singapore, according Refinitiv Eikon data.

Late in July, Sibur also supplied four 11,000-tonne cargoes from Ust-Luga to the Dutch port of Vlissingen, where the product was also moved ship-to-ship to the tanker Gas Alkhaleej for delivery to India's Mundra, according to Refinitiv data.

Both shipments were carried out by trading firm Trafigura, traders said.

Trafigura said it "continues to engage with customers and governments to understand their requirements and provide the commodities and energy they need in severely disrupted commodities markets”, but declined further comment.

Sibur didn't answer a Reuters' request for comment.

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Reporting by Reuters Editing by Mark Potter

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