MILAN, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices edged lower on a slew of new supply tenders and as Argentina moved to cancel and delay previously agreed purchases, but rallying oil and Nigerian disruptions held deeper losses at bay.
Prices for October delivery traded around $5.50 per million British thermal units, five cents below last week’s levels, with September also more or less level-pegging, trading sources said.
“In light of supply coming on stream I’d be more bearish than bullish but at the same time there are bids there at $5.50,” one trading source said, adding that by early next week prices should come off.
Supply at first glance looks abundant. In Australia alone, Exxon Mobil has put up for sale a September cargo at Gorgon with Conoco Phillips’ Darwin project offering two, plus a single shipment from North West Shelf.
Two September cargoes from Trinidad are up for grabs as are supplies from Indonesia’s Donggi Senoro, as well as Abu Dhabi, and even Algeria’s Sonatrach is scouting out spot buyers, industry sources said.
In Argentina where state-run energy buyer Enarsa is grappling with oversupply following a spate of recent tender purchases, traders reported cargo cancellations as well as delivery postponements.
“For players that are supplying Bahia Blanca (terminal) those sellers are having the most intensive discussions about diverting or cancelling cargoes, and at Escobar less so because it is more difficult to divert,” the first trading source said.
Enarsa has already cancelled two LNG shipments, as well as having postponed imports on other supply, as talks continue on further supply, he said.
Unusually, prices have hardly reacted. Instead, traders point to counter-balancing factors including a 10 percent jump in Brent crude oil prices since last week, plus demand from Gail India and Japan’s Kansai Electric.
Force majeure on gas supplies to Nigeria LNG has hit one oil major particularly hard, sources say, prompting replacement buying, which in a logistically-determined market like LNG can leave only a few tenable alternatives available.
Differences between lean and rich cargoes, as well as loading dates that must fit into delivery schedules, mean the oil major may only be able to replace lost Nigerian supply from a limited number of sources.
Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic; Editing by Susan Thomas