GLOBAL LNG-UK gas premium eroded even further in Argentine tender

  • Shell wins most of Argentina’s LNG tender
  •  Premium to UK gas narrows to mere 10 cents – traders
  • Glencore wins six LNG slots in Italy tender
  •  Korea Gas Corp tops up supply in bilateral deals

Oleg Vukmanovic

MILAN, March 10  – Asian spot LNG prices remained on a downward trajectory for a third month as producers fully stocked with supply struggled to place cargoes into a largely saturated market which was also tainted by low demand.

Spot prices for April delivery sank to $5.85 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), 15 cents below last week levels. May spot LNG slipped to $5.75 per mmBtu.

Purchasing by South Korea, Italy and Japan failed to offset the downward trend.

The latest tender award by Argentina on Friday for 20 cargoes seemingly lowered the pricing bar even further, traders said, and it showed how global deals are increasingly being tied to Britain’s National Balancing Point gas trading hub – a key price reference point.

In Argentina’s tender, where Shell walked away with the bulk of deliveries, winning bids were estimated by traders to carry a relatively small 10 cent premium to forward contracts at Britain’s NBP.

Shell is to supply about 18 cargoes to Argentina’s state-run Enarsa, with Petrobras and Gas Natural Fenosa each adding a cargo, traders said.

“In this oversupplied market the marginal buyer is basically the UK … other buyers in theory simply have to pay a premium against NBP to attract volumes,” one trader who participated in the tender said.

Britain’s liquid gas market, its ability to import large amounts of LNG and export it as gas using pipeline links with Europe make it an attractive market of last resort for shippers unable to find better alternatives as the supply overhang grows.

“This is the lowest price against the NBP since 2009,” he said of Argentina’s tender, also mentioning Pakistan’s recent LNG purchases, which carried a slim premium to NBP.

Moreover, Italy’s tender for 15 LNG cargoes – in which Glencore obtained six import slots, with Gunvor, MET International and Uniper also contributing – attracted bids with a similarly narrow premium to NBP.

Korea Gas Corp topped up supplies for March and early April with additional purchases of about five cargoes from various trading houses, sources said. The buyer may also be seeking additional supply for May and June.

In India, Gail is looking for two April cargoes, Angola has tendered to sell a cargo loading March 11-13 and, Abu Dhabi’s export facility is offering an April shipment.

Japan’s Kansai Electric and Tohoku Electric recently concluded deals to buy a cargo in April and May, respectively. (Additional reporting by Mark Tay in Singapore; editing by David Clarke)


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