(Reuters) — Japan's liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports from the United States are expected to double in 2017 to a record and account for around for around half of its total purchases, government and shipping data showed.

As with crude oil, the American exports displace LPG from the Middle East, where regional top producer of crude and LPG Saudi Arabia is losing market share, not least due to knock-on effects from the efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut production in order to prop up prices.

With the United States not participating in any cuts, its LPG exports to Japan could hit almost six million tonnes by the end of 2017, shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon showed, virtually doubling the volumes within just one year.

"U.S. imports are good for Japan from the energy security and diversification points of views," said Akira Yanagisawa, senior analyst at Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ).