SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) fell to their lowest in nearly 19 months this week, pressured as buying interest remained slow and as some supply came back online.
Spot prices for April delivery to Northeast Asia are currently at around $6.00 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), down 20 cents from the previous week at the lowest since Aug. 4, 2017 when they hit $5.90 per mmBtu, Eikon data showed.
Spot demand from China, the world’s second-largest LNG importer, remained slow, but there were some enquiries for April cargoes, trade sources said.
“The (Lunar New Year) holidays are over and some industries are back online, but I think (demand) will be the same as usual, though it’s still difficult to say which way it will go,” said a China-based industry source.
Total shipments of the super-chilled fuel into Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan were at about 15.94 million tonnes in February, down nearly 19 percent from the previous month, shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon showed.
While it is common for monthly import volumes to drop in February as peak-winter demand tapers off, that marked the biggest monthly decline from January to February since at least 2013, the data showed.
Chevron Corp’s Gorgon LNG export plant in Australia brought its train 3 back online after an unplanned outage, sources said earlier this week.
The train had been shut since mid-January to address a mechanical issue.
LNG loadings from Malaysia’s Bintulu export plant are also normal after a fire at the complex late last week, sources said earlier this week.
A fire broke out on the morning of Feb. 22 at a “sea cooling water outfall channel” that lies outside of the plant process area at the LNG complex, Petronas, the operator of the plant, has said.
Elsewhere, Nigeria LNG’s train 1 and 2 which were recently offline, are now back online and normal operations have resumed, NLNG’s spokesman told Reuters this week. “There was no cargo delivery loss recorded as the cargoes were rescheduled,” he added.
Russia delivered a record amount of LNG to Europe in February, becoming the biggest supplier of the chilled fuel to the continent for the first time.
In tenders and deals, traders said Mexico’s CFE is seeking two cargoes for delivery in March and another two cargoes for April into the Manzanillo terminal, while sources said Indonesia’s Bontang LNG export facility offered to sell at least two cargoes for April and May.
Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan, additional reporting by Ekaterina Kravtsova in LONDON; Editing by Joseph Radford