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Asian LNG prices edge upwards in May

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Outages at key plants and robust buying interest from the Americas and Middle East saw Asia spot LNG prices edge upwards in early May. Despite northwest European prices remaining in sight of their Asian equivalents, participants renewed their interest in reloads from the region.

The ICIS June East Asia Index (EAX) contract was last assessed at US$7.544/ million Btu on 15 May 2015, representing a US$0.438/million Btu rise since it became the front month contract on 16 April 2015. The ICIS EAX is an arithmetic average of the DES (delivered ex-ship) front month and second month ahead assessments for Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China. The index provides a measure of the commodity's value across the East Asia region and is a reliable LNG reference price for the region as it incorporates a wider pool of demand centres.

At the start of the period in mid April, East Asian markets showed limited signs of any uptick in demand for the summer season. South Korea's KOGAS was reported to be out of the market as it awaited a government update on its procurement targets. The state import monopoly's loss of volumes from the Yemen LNG plant, which declared force majeure on 14 April 2015, was at least partially offset by the planned start up of a 1GW nuclear plant in July.

In China, independent buyers were reported to have robust demand but were hampered by a lack of clarity over leasing third party capacity at the state oil companies' terminals. The focus of demand shifted to China's state buyers themselves, Japan's power utilities and portfolio sellers looking to optimise contractual commitments into the region. The highest bid heard in Japan on 17 April was US$6.650/million Btu for second half of June delivery while the lowest offer was recorded at US$7.100/million Btu.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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