| PERTH, March 30
PERTH, March 30 Asian liquefied natural gas spot
prices have risen to around $16 per million British thermal
units (mmBtu) LNG-AS since hitting a low in mid-February as
buyers continue to stock up on summer supplies.
Prices for LNG for delivery into Japan, the world's largest
LNG importer, were seen around the $16 per mmBtu level and
higher for June cargoes, and are expected to continue climbing.
"From now until the end of procuring summer, prices are only
going to go one way: up," one market source said.
Japan is bracing for what may be its first summer without
nuclear power as safety concerns after a tsunami triggered a
nuclear crisis last year ensured that all its nuclear reactors,
except for one, remain shut.
The one remaining reactor, Hokkaido Electric's
Tomari No.3, is scheduled to go offline on May 5 for
Before the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power's
Fukushima plant, about a third of Japan's power came from
nuclear utilities and the country has relied heavily on LNG to
fill the nuclear gap, with February imports of the fuel up 23
percent year on year.
The country's Nuclear Safety Commission has endorsed
computer-simulated stress tests on two reactors, but it is
unclear when officials will meet to consider restarts.
Tokyo Electric Power on Friday announced that it has
scrapped plans to build two more nuclear reactors at its
Fukushima plant, where the tsunami last year triggered the
As summer approaches, spot supplies may tighten with
Qatargas, the world's largest LNG supplier, planning to shut all
three LNG producing units at its Qatargas-1 plant for three
weeks of work starting in the third week of
However, the Angola LNG project will load its first cargo in
the second quarter and will initially sell all of its output on
a spot basis to Europe and Asia as it waits for government
approval for long-term contracts, according to Waterborne
Angola had originally planned to supply its LNG to the
United States, but with gas prices just over $2 per mmBtu due to
a glut of gas from a boom in shale gas supplies, the project is
now eyeing European and Asian customers.
In Europe, British gas prices <0#NBPGAS-RTR> were higher
this week as a gas leak at Total's Elgin gas platform
that has also forced rival Shell to evacuate and shut a
nearby gas rig.
On the other side of the Atlantic, however, U.S. natural gas
prices dropped to a ten-year low as mild weather and high
inventories undercut prices.
(Editing by Sugita Katyal)