GLOBAL LNG-Asian prices drop to record low as coronavirus slams gas demand
Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices fell to a record low this week as lower industrial output from countries which have restricted people’s movement severely dented gas demand while supply remained ample.
The average LNG price for May delivery into northeast Asia LNG-AS fell to an estimated $2.30 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) this week, down 50 cents, or nearly 20%, from the previous week to a record low, traders said.
The previous low was in February when demand dropped in China, where the coronavirus first emerged, but prices later started edging higher after the fall stoked some buying interest.
This week, prices took a turn for the worse after top buyers in India declared force majeure on LNG imports. That combined with a drop in demand from Europe, which has seen some of the highest number of coronavirus cases, has caused LNG supply to swell globally.
Brunei’s LNG export plant sold two May-loading cargoes at prices ranging from $2.15 to $2.35 per mmBtu, three industry sources said.
The buyer is likely Vitol, one of the sources said, though this could not immediately be confirmed, while a second source said it was likely the lowest ever physical price achieved for an Asian LNG cargo.
Papua New Guinea likely sold a cargo for delivery in mid-May at around $2.30 to $2.45 per mmBtu, sources said.
Oman LNG may be offering two to three cargoes for loading over May to June while Icthys LNG has offered a cargo for loading over April 20 to 24, they added.
Cheniere Energy bought four cargoes for delivery in Europe, industry sources said, adding that this was an unusual move for the firm which is typically a seller.
This likely indicates that shipping U.S. cargoes to Europe or Asia is currently not profitable, traders said.
Still, some demand from China emerged as the country slowly returned to work.
Yudean likely bought a cargo for delivery into Dapeng over mid-May to mid-June at about $2.40 per mmBtu, sources said.
Turkey’s Botas is seeking three cargoes for delivery in April, industry sources added.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)