Poten's Weekly: The Light End Of The Barrel

Jul 01 2021

Condensates are an important but loosely defined commodity.

If you look up the definition of “condensate”, it quickly becomes clear that it is not a very well-defined commodity. Condensates can be pumped in its liquid form from a well (‘lease’ condensate) or processed and separated from natural gas at gas processing plant (‘plant’ condensate). It is a very light (>50 API) hydrocarbon that is used as a refinery feedstock to produce light products such as gasoline and jet fuel. Some condensates, particularly those with a high paraffin content, are used in petrochemical plants to make certain types of plastics.


Some countries, like Canada and Venezuela, use condensates to dilute highly viscous heavy crude oils to enable transport via pipelines or tankers. The largest producers of condensate are Russia, the Middle East (in particular Iran), the U.S. and Australia and significant volumes are transported seaborne on tankers.


The sanctions against Iran have kept significant condensate volumes off the international market in recent years, but the potential resumption of Iranian exports has excited Asian refiners that are equipped with condensate splitters. Many of them were big customers prior to the sanctions.


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