Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices have weakened for the fifth consecutive week on muted demand due to healthy stocks, remaining at their lowest level in two years.
The average LNG price for July delivery into north-east Asia was down 3% from the previous week at $9.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), the lowest since early May 2021, industry sources estimated.
“North Asia remains largely void of demand. Prices have continued to walk down week-on-week and support hasn’t been helped by Japanese utilities selling into an already weak market,” said Toby Copson, global head of trading at Trident LNG.
“To add to this, an Indian tender managed to break the $9.00 mark and will act as a anchor in the near term in the absence of supply disruptions or any real demand,” he added.
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Alex Froley, LNG analyst at data intelligence firm ICIS, said that prices at $9-10/mmBtu are likely to encourage some increased buying from Asia, particularly for power generation, although spot LNG remains expensive for many industrial users.
This week, the inter-basin arbitrage for U.S. loadings opened, with north-east Asian delivery LNG prices commanding enough of a premium to draw spot Atlantic cargoes away from Europe, said Samuel Good, head of LNG pricing at commodity pricing agency Argus.
“The opening has come primarily from weaker European demand and lower prices for the region, rather than any sizeable jump in north-east Asian demand, with slight falls in north-east Asian prices paling in comparison to the sharp falls seen this week in European (gas) prices,” Good added.
In Europe, the Dutch benchmark wholesale gas price touched its lowest level in two years on Friday, as prices across the energy complex fell in response to news Germany has slipped into recession, amid mild temperatures and healthy supply.
The gas market has healthy supply, with storage at around 66.7% full, versus around 44% a year ago, and with the help of milder weather, buying interest remains low, said Allen Reed, managing editor of Atlantic LNG at S&P Global Commodity Insights.
S&P assessed its daily north-west Europe LNG Marker (NWM) price benchmark for cargoes delivered in July on an ex-ship (DES) basis at $7.350/mmBtu on May 25, a $0.75/mmBtu discount to the July gas price at the Dutch gas TTF hub, Reed said.
Meanwhile, Argus assessed the NWE DES price at $9.675/mmBtu on May 25, a $1.16 discount to TTF gas price.
Spot LNG freight rates softened this week, touching new lows since Summer 2022, with Atlantic spot rates falling to $33,500/day on Friday, and Pacific rates falling to $38,750/day, according to Edward Armitage, an analyst at Spark Commodities.
(Reuters – Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Nina Chestney)