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Asian spot LNG rally stalls on oversupply

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to ICIS, Asian spot prices fell in the first half of October as the regions struggled to absorb abundant supply of LNG from the Pacific basin amid weak demand fundamentals. Falling crude oil prices also weighed on the near curve, as buyers anticipated lower contractual rates later in the winter.

The ICIS November 2014 East Asia Index (EAX)* was assessed at US$ 13.950/million Btu on 15 October, having shed US$ 0.775/million Btu from a high point of US$ 14.725/million Btu on 29 September. This represented a US$ 0.588/million Btu loss since the contract rolled to become the front month on 16 September. December EAX was assessed at US$ 14.468/million Btu on 15 October, having fallen by US$ 0.307/million Btu since 16 September.

As the new contract month began in mid-September, sellers cited the high cost of marginal supply from the Atlantic basin in pushing to extend the rally that began in late July. Free on board (FOB) prices remained approximately US$ 13.000/million Btu in the Atlantic Basin, while opportunities from the usual sources of Nigeria and Trinidad remained limited.

Many of Japan’s larger utility buyers remained out of the market because of ample inventories and predictions of mild October weather, according to ICIS. South Korea’s KOGAS continued its attempts to enter into swap arrangements by offering prompt volumes to the market in return for receiving volumes later in the winter. However, smaller Japanese utilities and a number of Chinese buyers had expressed interest for November deliveries.

On 26 September, the highest bid for delivery in the second half of November was recorded at US$ 14.600/million Btu into Japan, while the lowest offer for the same delivery period was US$ 15.100/million Btu.

By late September, the emergence of abundant supply from within the pacific basin acted to cap any price rise. The North West Shelf (NWS) project in Australia, the ExxonMobil operated PNG LNG project and Abu Dhabi’s ADGAS opened tenders to sell at least four cargoes for November delivery. Indonesia’s Bontang LNG export plant also closed a tender for the delivery of up to six cargoes on a prompt basis, while the BP operated Tangguh project on the Indonesian island of West Papua is marketing four early winter spot cargoes. These cargoes were released to the market because of a delay to the start up of the Lampung floating terminal off the coast of southern Sumatra.

*The ICIS EAX is an average of the delivered ex-ship (DES) 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.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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