June 22, 2018 / 9:37 PM / 24 days ago

Asian spot price sinks as ending outages boost supply

LONDON (Reuters) - Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices sank this week, snapping a four-week rally as production outages in the United States, Qatar and Malaysia wrapped up and producers fed supply into the market.

Spot prices for August delivery in Asia fell $1.10 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) to $10.60 per mmBtu, marking a rapid reversal in sentiment despite large purchase tenders in the Atlantic and Middle East.

More than 40 cargoes were sought by buyers in Mexico, Argentina, Egypt and Pakistan for June-September delivery, adding to brisk weather-driven demand from China and northeast Asia.

Some of the tenders were not fully filled, such as Egypt, due to either a lack of offers or high prices. Offers for Pakistan’s July-August requirement were also thin on the ground.

Yet the majority of demand was successfully filled, traders said.

A source said one of two Qatari liquefaction trains, taken offline for two-weeks each, resumed output, while the other was not yet in full operation.

In the United States, a month-long maintenance on the third liquefaction train at Sabine Pass ran its course, with gas inputs into the facility recovering to pre-outage levels.

At the same time, traders said exports from Malaysia’s 24- million-tonnes-per-annum Bintulu complex had recovered to normal levels, an assertion borne out by ship-tracking data which shows a weekly jump in exports.

Chevron’s Wheatstone project commenced exports from its second production train.

“A large amount of supply was written off because of outages, but in the end how tight was the market really?” a trade source said.

Soon after the tenders closed or were awarded, more supply was offered into the market from Russia, Australia, Cameroon.

The latest price points indicate an Aug. 4 loading cargo from Russia’s Sakhalin II export plant fetched around $10.70 per mmBtu in Asia, though cargoes from this plant tend to command a premium for their flexibility.

Another cargo was sold in Asia for early August at an estimated $10.50 per mmBtu, in line with a late June-loading cargo sold from Angola LNG to China.

More maintenance is around the corner, including a planned outage for Angola LNG in July and Peru LNG will halt shipments for three-weeks from July 27.

The APLNG plant on Curtis Island off the east coast of Australia will also undergo partial maintenance over July, August and September, affecting half of a train.

Thick sea ice impeded shipments from Russia’s Arctic LNG plant in Yamal this week but supplies appear to be moving toward Europe again. The Boris Vilkitsky tanker has left the Bay of Ob after a week of idling fully-laden in the area of the liquefaction plant, shipping data showed.

Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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