Saudi Aramco has started to send liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to the Chinese chemical producer Wanhua Chemical Group, entering a first annual supply contract worth about $200m, Gulf Today reported. Saudi Arabia seeks to boost its its sales to the world’s top LPG consuming nation as output of the fuel climbs at home, Gulf Today reported. In Asia an LPG deficit is drawing shipments from other Middle Eastern exporters and the US.

According to Zawya, an industry official with knowledge of the agreement said: “Aramco’s previous China shipments were mostly via majors or trading houses. Now it wants to sell direct to end-users.” For his side, Wanhua confirmed the reception of its first Saudi LPG cargo at Yantai port, in the Shandong province.

A senior Wanhua Procurement Manage, Liang Bin, underpinned the importance of Saudi Aramco for China, saying: “We also secure LPG from other Middle Eastern producers such as Qatar and Kuwait, but Aramco is our single largest supplier.”

Earlier in May, Algerian state energy company Sonatrach has awarded two Chinese firms a $40m deal to deliver a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carrier and an option to provide a second vessel.