UPDATE 1-Qatar says ready to re-route energy cargoes to China after virus spread

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DUBAI, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Qatari energy companies are “actively engaged” in accommodating rescheduling or re-routing requests on some deliveries of Qatari oil and gas cargoes to China after a coronavirus outbreak, the Qatari energy minister said on Wednesday.

Saad al-Kaabi, who is also the chief executive of state energy giant Qatar Petroleum (QP), said in a statement that QP supports “its counterpart Chinese energy companies to meet any needs that can support China’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus and its impact.”

He added: “All concerned Qatari energy companies are already working closely with their Chinese partners to assist in identifying and assessing potential support areas, and ... are actively engaged in accommodating certain rescheduling or re-routing requests for deliveries of Qatari energy products.”

Qatar is the world’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Several analysts cut their gas demand forecasts for China, as the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak is expected to depress industrial, commercial and transportation appetite over the next few months.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the coronavirus epidemic, which originated in China and where more than 1,300 people have now died of the virus, posed a global threat potentially worse than terrorism.

The outbreak added further pressure on Asian LNG spot prices LNG-AS, which hit a record low below $3 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) last week.

Prices were already weak as demand slipped in Asia due to a milder-than-expected winter and a prolonged trade war between China and the United States, while new LNG projects in the United States and Australia have kept supplies flowing. (Reporting by Rania El Gamal, Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Tom Hogue)