PERTH, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Asian spot LNG prices fell back to the high $18 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) this week in thin trade as buyers in Asia wrapped up winter buying.
Asian LNG prices fell to around $18.75 per mmBtu during the past week, market sources said.
Prices are now expected to continue lower, with prices for the end of the first quarter next year seen in the $16 per mmBtu level.
Japan, the world’s largest importer of LNG, imported 8.3 percent more LNG in November compared with the previous year, according to customs data, as it continues to struggle to make up for shut nuclear reactors.
The country is currently operating without nuclear power after the September shut down of its last two operating nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. It is only the second time since the 1970s that Japan, which normally gets around a third of its power from nuclear reactors, has been without nuclear power.
South Korea’s LNG imports rose 9.7 percent from year-ago levels in November as the world’s second largest importer of LNG uses the fuel to compensate for nuclear reactors shut due to a safety scandal.
Six of South Korea’s 23 nuclear reactors are currently offline, and the timing of their restarts is still unclear.
In Europe, cold weather forced Turkey to snap up two LNG cargoes this week, adding to five it has already ordered from Qatar.
On the supply side, BG Group said its Queensland Curtis Island coal seam gas to LNG plant in Australia was on track to start selling LNG next year after it delivered gas to a liquefaction terminal for the first time.
The plant is one of just two LNG plants that is due to come online in Asia Pacific 2014, with Exxon’s PNG LNG being the other.
Global LNG exports in 2013 are set to exceed the 238.4 million tonnes seen last year as increased exports from Qatar, Yemen, Malaysia, and Pluto LNG offset declined in Nigeria and Egypt, according to Waterborne LNG analysts.