LNG sellers lay out new strategies for wooing buyers in crowded market

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Liquefied natural gas (LNG) sellers have new strategies to woo Asian buyers in a market that is set to be flooded with more supply, according to statements from industry executives this week at a conference.

FILE PHOTO - A membrane-type liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker is moored at a thermal power station in Futtsu, east of Tokyo, Japan February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Producers of LNG, which is natural gas chilled to liquid for easier transportation, are drawing customers with shorter term contracts, by removing restrictions that limit where cargoes can be re-sold and by providing equity in terminals.

“It’s time for us to see more collaboration between buyers and sellers so they are not fighting with each other but can be friends,” Masakazu Toyoda, chairman and chief executive of the government-associated Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ), said on Monday.

Japan is the world’s biggest LNG buyer.

U.S. LNG project developer Tellurian Inc said earlier this week that it is offering billions of dollars in equity in its Driftwood project in Louisiana, which will in turn lower the delivered cost of the fuel to buyers in Japan.

An equity model will share the burden of risk between upstream companies and downstream companies, in turn lowering investment costs, Toyoda told Reuters.

Texas LNG, is offering a flexible tolling fee at its facility in Brownsville, in southern Texas, which could fluctuate according to market conditions and oil prices, said Chief Executive Officer Vivek Chandra.

“When times are lean for you and oil prices are low, maybe I’ll drop (the tolling fee) 10 percent but when oil prices recover, maybe I’ll go up 10 percent and hope that over the next 10 years I average out to the agreed amount,” said Chandra on Wednesday.

“The flexible tolling fee I think is an example of an innovative pricing structure.”

Tolling agreements are a way to finance liquefaction plants or regasification terminals to convert natural gas into LNG for transport or storage.

Others are negotiating for contracts to be done over a shorter period.

Malaysian state energy company Petronas on Wednesday signed a three-year LNG supply agreement with JERA Co, the fuel purchasing joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, which is shorter than the 15-year deal that expires in March 2018.

“Customers are signing more short-term contracts... 5 to 10 years is a good compromise,” Dennis Bonhomme, senior vice president of ENGIE Global LNG’s business development unit in Asia, said on Thursday.

“As a Japanese or Korean utility, you can secure long-term supply for your country which is what you paid for and you don’t take too much risk.”

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan and Roslan Khasawneh,; Additional reporting by Florence Tan and Seng Li Peng in SINGAPORE; Editing by Christian Schmollinger