Jan 11 The biggest divergence between U.S. and
Asian gas prices in a year has created an opportunity for
tankers delivering liquefied natural gas, with most departures
from a key Louisiana terminal in the last month-and-a-half
heading toward East Asia, shipping data released on Wednesday
The facility, Sabine Pass, owned by Cheniere Energy Inc
, opened last year as the first LNG export terminal in
the U.S. Lower 48 states. The United States has been exporting
gas out of Alaska since 1969.
U.S. gas prices at the Henry Hub GT-HH-IDX benchmark in
Louisiana this week dropped about 20 percent since hitting a
two-year high on Dec. 28, trading around $3.25 per million
British thermal units (mmBtu) on Wednesday.
Spot gas in Asia LNG-AS has soared by more than 30 percent
since early December to a near two-year high of $9.75 per mmBtu.
The premium of Asia over U.S. gas has reached its highest
level since January 2015, presenting an arbitrage opportunity
that LNG traders have rushed to fill.
"China is experiencing colder-than-normal conditions, demand
has kicked higher and prices have followed," said Matt Smith,
director of commodity research at energy data provider
ClipperData in Louisville, Kentucky.
In addition, China is looking to avoid previous gas
shortages that the country has experienced in the past, Smith
Of the 17 LNG vessels that left Sabine Pass in Louisiana
since the start of December, at least 10 have either delivered
their cargoes in East Asia or were moving in that direction
across the Pacific Ocean, data from Reuters and ClipperData
Those 10 ships have the capacity to carry about 33.2 billion
cubic feet (bcf) of gas, worth about $120.6 million, based on
the Henry Hub average. The United States consumes about 75 bcf
per day (bcfd) of gas on average.
Those 10 included the first shipments from Sabine to both
Japan and South Korea.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc's BG Group has the contract
for the part of the capacity for parts of the first and second
0.65-bcfd liquefaction trains at Sabine Pass. Gas Natural Fenosa
also has a contract for part of the capacity of the
Since February, 61 vessels have taken cargos from Sabine,
but just three vessels delivered LNG to East Asia between
February and the end of November. Another 27 went to either
South America or Mexico and five to India; the rest were
scattered around the Middle East and Europe.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Richard Chang)