Japan spot LNG price falls to lowest on record amid coronavirus outbreak

TOKYO (Reuters) - Prices for spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes imported into Japan, the world’s biggest buyer of the fuel, fell in February to the lowest since the country’s trade ministry started compiling data in 2014.

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

LNG prices have been hit by a perfect storm of new supply coming on stream in the United States and Australia, a warmer northern hemisphere winter, and the coronavirus outbreak this year that has eviscerated demand for gas and other commodities.

The average contract price for spot LNG cargoes shipped to Japan in February fell to $3.40 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), according to data released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on Tuesday.

That was the lowest since METI started publishing the data in March 2014 and was down from $5.90/mmBtu in January.

Asian spot LNG prices LNG-AS fell to a record low of $2.70/mmBtu last month as the coronavirus outbreak worsened in China, the fastest growing market for LNG imports.

While the outbreak appears to be coming under control in China, the coronavirus is spreading in other parts of the world, with all of Italy under virtual lockdown and governments vowing stimulus packages to help support financial markets. [MKTS/GLOB]

METI surveys spot LNG cargoes bought by Japanese utilities and other importers, but excludes cargo-by-cargo deals linked to benchmarks such as the U.S. natural gas Henry Hub index.

It only publishes a price if there is a minimum of two eligible cargoes reported by buyers.

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Tom Hogue