Asian prices dive to nine-month low on supply surplus

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) fell to a nine-month low this week as the region remains oversupplied amid a warmer-than-usual winter. Spot prices for March delivery to Asia this week fell to $7.00 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), down $1 from the previous week, lowest since April 6, trade sources said.

FILE PHOTO: Liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tanks are seen at the Sinopec Tianjin LNG receiving terminal in Tianjin, China October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

They are also seasonally at the lowest for this time of the year since 2016, Reuters data showed.

Oil major BP offered a cargo for March 26 to 28 for delivery into Japan, South Korea, Taiwan or China at $7.10 per mmBtu during the Platts pricing process on Thursday, industry sources said.

Asian prices for March cargoes have fallen below the UK front-month gas price, reversing a multi-year trend in which Asian prices had a premium over Europe and prompting some traders to redirect cargoes to Europe from Asia.

Vitol on Wednesday changed the destination of two LNG cargoes sourced in the United States to northwest Europe from Asia due to the discount on Asian prices compared to those in Britain, an industry source familiar with the matter said.

“The market’s getting kind of crazy,” a Singapore-based industry source said, adding that derivatives volumes in Asia have dropped recently.

Trade was also quiet ahead of week-long Chinese New Year holidays, when most dealers from the world’s second largest LNG importer will be away, amid a production shut down at factories.

Gail (India) sold six LNG cargoes from Cove Point and Sabine Pass terminals in the United States for loading in 2020, industry sources said. Price details could not immediately be confirmed but there were several buyers including Glencore, the sources added.

It has also offered two more tenders offering more cargoes for next year.

The Indian importer has 20-year deals to buy 5.8 million tonnes a year of U.S. LNG, split between Dominion Energy’s Cove Point plant and Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass site but is likely selling the cargoes as part of optimization, one of the sources said.

Papua New Guinea LNG plant may have sold its cargo for March delivery at about $6.50 per mmBtu on a free-on-board basis while Sakhalin LNG may have sold its March loading cargoes at below $7 per mmBtu, a second source said. The deals could not immediately be confirmed.

Offering some support for prices, Chevron Corp’s Gorgon LNG project’s train 3 remains shut after production was halted at the train in mid-January due to a mechanical issue, industry sources said.

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Rashmi Aich