Global LNG: Flood of spot cargoes push prices to seven-week low

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LONDON (May 24): Asian liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices slumped this week on a flood of spot volumes amid subdued demand.

Prices for delivery into northeast Asia in July are estimated at US$4.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), the lowest level in seven weeks. The August price is in a slight contango but is also below US$5.00 per mmBtu.

Price spreads between Europe and Asia shrank to below 50 cents from over US$1 earlier in May, reducing opportunities for spot trade between the Pacific and Atlantic basins.

Cargo offers came from a variety of sellers around the world, with oversupply absorbing supply curbs from Russia's Sakhalin 2 and Malaysia's Bintulu LNG plants following outages.

In the Pacific, the BP-operated Tangguh LNG project in Indonesia offered three cargoes for loading in August and September, while state-owned Pertamina offered two cargoes for loading from the Bontang plant in June and July.

Brunei LNG offered a cargo for late June loading and may have awarded it at US$4.50 to US$4.60 per mmBtu, sources said.

In the Middle East, offers came from Oman where two spot cargoes were made available for loading from the end of June to the end of August.

In the Atlantic, Egypt's natural gas company (EGAS) awarded its sell tender for 13 cargoes loading in June and July.

Prices for some cargoes might have been as low as US$3.50 per mmBtu, trade sources said, with the low prices being a result of a drop in European gas prices.

Usually cargoes from EGAS are sold at a level close to the benchmark price at the British gas hub NBP, trade sources said.

June and July contracts on the NBP traded between US$3.59-US$3.99 per mmBtu this week, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

Trading houses Gunvor and Trafigura won seven and two cargoes respectively, and Vitol might have also won two cargoes, three trade sources said.

Angola LNG continued to offer spot volumes and will close a tender for June delivery on May 29.

Algeria's Sonatrach is actively offering spot cargoes as some of its long-term buyers backed out from taking the volumes linked to the oil price, sources said.

In Europe, Norway's DEA Norge offered a spot cargo on the free-on-board (FOB) basis for July loading, two trade sources said.

Also, Argentina is making its way into the LNG exporters club. State-owned energy firm YFP this week offered a small cargo from the new floating production facility Tango at Bahia Blanca.

On the demand side, activity was much more subdued.

Japan's gas inventory is still high while Chinese buyers were seeking LNG cargoes for winter at below market prices, which is also weighing on spot prices, trade sources in Singapore said.

Indian buyers were in the market, with Torrent Power and Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC) looking for July delivery cargoes.

Mexican utility CFE awarded its buy tender into Altamira to Royal Dutch Shell, a source said.