New flows of lightly distilled US condensate exports to the expanding Asia-Pacific market for petrochemical feedstocks highlight the need for more transparent price identification for condensates in the region.

The Argus Condensate Index (ACI), launched by energy price reporting agency Argus this month, is a key indicator of value for participants in the emerging market to supply petrochemical feedstocks from the US and other producers to Asia-Pacific.

The first tankers carrying US lightly distilled condensate have been booked to take cargoes from the Gulf coast to Japan and South Korea, following US commerce department authorisation of exports by US firms Pioneer and Enterprise from the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas. The move clarifies the terms of a 40-year old ban on virtually all US crude and condensate exports. At the same time, new splitters in South Korea, Singapore and China are boosting Asia-Pacific demand for condensates this year.

The ACI will bring transparency to a market affected by diverse price signals, including the relative value of crude and naphtha. The daily ACI reflects the lowest delivered price in southeast Asia of the two most traded condensate grades in the region — Qatari Deodorized Field Condensate (DFC) and Australian North West Shelf (NWS). Qatar exports 22 cargoes of DFC a month, mostly to Asia-Pacific, and Australia markets five cargoes of NWS condensate each month.

Argus Media chairman and chief executive Adrian Binks said: "Argus works with the industry to develop the price assessments needed for transparency. The ACI will help market participants understand value and realise opportunity."

The ACI is published in the daily Argus Crude market report and through Argus Direct, an advanced online platform.