Global LNG: Asian prices reverse declining trend on Japanese demand

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) edged higher this week, reversing the declining trend of recent weeks due to renewed appetite for spot cargoes, but unsold cargoes capped gains, traders said.

FILE PHOTO: An LNG tanker is seen off the coast of Singapore February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Gloystein/File Photo

Spot prices for December delivery LNG-AS into North Asia were estimated at $10.30 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up 10 cents from a more than two-month low struck over the past two weeks.

Japanese power utility Kansai Electric Power Co 9503.T was seeking two cargoes for delivery in December, while Japan's Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc 9506.T was seeking a cargo for delivery over Dec. 25 to Dec. 30, traders said.

Kansai could have purchased at least one cargo at $10 to $10.30 per mmBtu, while Tohoku may have received lowest offers for its cargo requirement in the range of $10.60 to $10.70 per mmBtu, they added.

Japan's Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal 9801.T had been sounding out the market about a potential spot purchase for delivery in the second half of December to January, one trader said.

The temperature in Tokyo is expected to dip below average next week and also in Beijing in two weeks, weather data from Refinitiv Eikon showed.

Demand from South Asia was also seen with tenders emerging from India and Pakistan.

Essar Steel India sought an LNG cargo on a delivered ex-ship (DES) basis for delivery into Dahej over Dec. 28-29 on LNG trading marketplace Global LNG Exchange (GLX) this week but failed to attract sellers.

Pakistan State Oil returned to the spot market after several months hiatus, seeking three cargoes for delivery in January and February.

Still, high freight rates for LNG tankers are curbing demand, after hitting $200,000 a day, exceeding a 2012 peak of $180,000 a day.

There were still several unsold cargoes in the spot market, which kept a lid on prices, traders said.

Australia’s Ichthys LNG project has shipped its second and third LNG cargoes, Refinitiv Eikon shiptracking data showed.

LNG tanker Gaslog Skagen loaded from the Ichthys LNG plant on Oct. 28 and discharged the cargo into the Guangxi LNG terminal in China on Nov. 7, the data showed.

The tanker Marvel Eagle loaded LNG from the plant on Nov. 3 and is due to arrive in Yeosu, South Korea on Nov. 16, according to the data.

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; editing by Richard Pullin