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Asian prices jump to six-year highs on record imports

FILE PHOTO: A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker is tugged towards a thermal power station in Futtsu, east of Tokyo, Japan November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File photo

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) jumped 17% this week, riding six-year highs, as a cold spell in some countries prompted record imports into the region.

The average LNG price for February delivery into Northeast Asia was estimated at about $14.60 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up $2.10 from the previous week, sources said.

Asia is set to import nearly 27 million tonnes of LNG in December, far surpassing the previous monthly high set in December, last year at about 23.6 million tonnes, mainly led by China and Japan, shiptracking data from Refinitiv Eikon showed on Thursday.

China’s volumes in December hit over 9 million tonnes, a jump of about 40% from November, the data showed, with the country overtaking Japan as the world’s top importer of the super-chilled fuel for a second straight month.

Japan is also set to import record high monthly volumes in December at about 8.1 million tonnes, the data showed.

Temperatures are expected to dip below normal in Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai over the next two weeks, according to Refinitiv’s weather data, boosting demand for the fuel used for heating.

Meanwhile, spot demand from Pakistan continued to emerge with state-run procurement agency Pakistan LNG seeking two cargoes for delivery in April.

India’s Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) may have bought a cargo for delivery in February at $10 to $10.50 per mmBtu earlier this week while Petronas may have sold a cargo loading from Australia’s Gladstone LNG to Japan’s JERA at $13 to $13.50 per mmBtu, an industry source said.

On the sell side, Russia’s Novatek has offered a cargo for delivery into Europe over the first half of March in a tender that closes on Dec. 30, a second source said.

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; editing by Uttaresh.V