MILAN, Sept 21 (Reuters) - U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter Cheniere Energy announced on Monday a deal to sell up to 24 cargoes to French energy giant EDF from 2017 through 2018.
Under the deal, the sales price of the shipments will be linked to the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) in the Netherlands, continental Europe’s biggest and most liquid gas trading point.
But an industry source said Cheniere retained cancellation options as part of its deal with EDF, meaning it could wriggle out of some supply commitments if it found more profitable outlets in Asia or the Middle East.
The exact number of cargoes firmly committed to EDF could not be confirmed, although some sources believed only a handful were fixed to arrive at EDF’s newly built import terminal at Dunkirk in France.
Cheniere, which has locked-up a large chunk of its spare LNG export capacity already, is seeking fall-back options on where to place cargoes from its first LNG export plant due to start-up in December, a trader said.
The preferred market for LNG volumes has traditionally been Asia and the Middle East, where buyers paid premiums as demand rose.
But slowing growth in China and falling demand for gas in top LNG importers Japan and South Korea, combined with a surge in new supply from Australia and the United States, has cut prices and prompted greater competition for market share.
Producers in turn are scrambling to lock-in buyers and set up fall-back positions where they can offload supply as a last resort in case demand sours.
A commercial source at the EDF-led Dunkirk terminal told Reuters last year that talks were taking place aimed at selling options to deliver cargoes into the terminal, rather than just selling firm import capacity.
The Dunkirk terminal is due to come on stream this year.
The latest deal builds on pre-existing ties between the firms. Last month Cheniere agreed to sell EDF 26 cargoes through 2018.
Volumes will be sourced from Cheniere Marketing’s LNG supply portfolio, the U.S. company said in a statement. (Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic; Editing by Mark Potter)