March 20, 2020 / 8:49 AM / in 17 days

Asian LNG spot prices rise but lower European demand could boost flows

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices rose for a third straight week on slowly recovering demand in China as local transmissions of coronavirus ease but a flood of cargoes from the West could reverse price gains, traders said.

A LNG tanker is seen at the Negishi LNG Terminal, which is jointly operated by Tokyo Gas and JERA, in Yokohama, Japan October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Yuka Obayashi/Files

The average LNG price for May delivery into northeast Asia was estimated at $3.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up 20 cents from the previous week, traders said.

Prices for cargoes delivered in April were estimated around $3.70/mmBtu, up 30 cents from a week ago.

European gas demand could fall more than 4% over the next two months on depressed commercial and industrial activity as more countries lock down to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus, consultancy Rystad Energy said on Thursday.

This could see more cargo flows towards Asia, eventually depressing prices, traders said.

This week, three to four LNG tankers which loaded from the United States are expected to arrive in Asia, compared with only one last week, shiptracking data from Refinitiv Eikon and Kpler showed. Next week, six U.S. LNG cargoes are due to arrive in Asia, according to data intelligence firm Kpler.

In contrast, only six LNG tankers are due to arrive in Europe from the United States this week, half the number of vessels from last week’s 12, and in line with an overall drop in imports into Europe, Refinitiv data showed.

At least one LNG tanker, the BW Brussels, has diverted its course to Thailand instead of France as initially scheduled, Kpler analyst Rebecca Chia told Reuters.

Exxon Mobil Corp’s Papua New Guinea export plant has sold a cargo for loading in April at close to $4 per mmBtu, four industry sources said on Thursday.

The 4.05 trillion British thermal unit (TBtu) cargo is for loading on April 25, they added.

The cargo sold by the Papua New Guinea plant is a jump of almost 40 cents per mmBtu, or about 11%, from a deal concluded in Singapore on Tuesday, traders said.

The oil price plunge is likely to boost demand for long-term oil-linked cargoes in some countries, though others may turn to cheaper oil for power generation, they added.

In tenders, Brunei LNG plant offered a cargo for loading in April while Indonesia’s Bontang plant, Sakhalin 2 plant and Angola LNG offered cargoes this week.

On the buy side, India’s Torrent Power is seeking 12 cargoes for delivery next year while Petronet is seeking 2 cargoes for delivery over July to January, they added.

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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