Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices rose this week as strong expected demand from South Korea added to appetite from India and Taiwan, while supply from the United States was slow to return from maintenance. The price of LNG for December delivery was $6.95 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up around 15 cents from a week earlier. Attention was on a tender by Korea Gas Corp which has by all accounts exceeded its initial scope and drawn bids by 25 companies offering to supply around 50 cargoes in total – even though it only advertised demand for four shipments. In reality, though, Korea Gas Corp is expected to purchase up to 15 or more cargoes to cover strong winter needs as nuclear outages and low LNG stocks prompt a buying spree.
Exact numbers could not be confirmed, but companies in line to supply include Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Trafigura, Statoil, PetroChina as well as others, trade sources said. Transaction levels are estimated in the high $6/mmBtu and, depending on delivery period, $7/mmBtu, traders said, while the large number of cargoes put forward suggests suppliers had more on tap than they were letting on. Two separate South Korean firms also picked up a cargo from Japanese trading firm Itochu in a tender, traders said.
Taiwan’s CPC is to bring in two cargoes over November-December, traders said. Egypt also launched the world’s biggest mid-term LNG purchase tender for 96 cargoes over 2017 and 2018, drawing significant interest despite new rules forcing suppliers to wait up to six months to get paid. Given Egypt’s worsening credit profile, traders said participation in the bidding round could be less, potentially pushing some conservative oil majors into supplying the country through trade houses.
Argentina, meanwhile, withdrew from further buying activity until March owing to low gas demand, ample hydroelectric reserves and high fuel oil stocks, according to traders. State-run buyer Enarsa has pushed back shipments due this year until August 2017, as well as having cancelled other cargoes altogether. Spot trading interest was firmly fixed on Far East markets, showing premiums to the Middle East, helping rekindle arbitrage plays between Atlantic and Pacific markets. Indian demand remains strong. Bharat Petroleum and Gail India are seeking to buy a combined four shipments over December-January and Torrent Power seeks 38 cargoes over four years beginning April 2017.
Due back from its month-long maintenance a week ago, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction plant is only now moving to restart, judging by gas intake levels. Spot demand was weak in top LNG consumer Japan. “In November, Japanese utilities negotiate their annual delivery programmes (ADP) for next year, and so for January, February and March they won’t be looking seriously for spot cargoes if they get what they want in their ADP talks,” a source said. Dont’a Hightower Womens JerseyShare This