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Global LNG-Asian prices fall on European market decline, outlook still bullish

Asian liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices fell this week on muted Asian demand and a drop in European gas prices in thin holiday trading, though a bullish outlook remained on concerns over tight European supply.

The average LNG price for February delivery into Northeast Asia fell to 33.8 per metric million British thermal units (mmBtu), down $14.5, or around 30% from the previous week, industry sources said.

Demand in Asia stalled as buyers resisted high spot market prices that recently reached around $45/mmBtu and favoured alternative fuels, but demand could recover in January, Rystad Energy said in a report.

European gas prices declined from all-time highs seen last week despite concerns over Russian supply with the Yamal pipeline that brings Russian gas to heat homes and power electricity generation in Germany remained in reverse direction, sending fuel back to Poland for a 10th day on Thursday.

The arrival of several LNG gas tankers sent prices down and helped offset low exports from Russia

Europe’s LNG imports for December were estimated at 9.1 million tonnes on Thursday, the third highest month ever, and compared with 6.2 million tonnes in December 2020, according to Laura Page, senior LNG analyst at data intelligence firm KPLR.

However, concerns over low storage capacity in Europe, currently at 55% and the prolonged process of approval for Nord Stream 2 remain a bullish factor that should support prices.

“Looking into January, weather reports and supply-side stories such as Nord Stream 2 will likely continue to drive sentiment in Europe, and therefore globally, although in Asia, LNG inventories at major Japanese power utilities are currently above four-year average rates, which may temper gains,” said Robert Songer, LNG analyst at data intelligence firm ICIS.

Pacific LNG freight spot rates fell 28% week-on-week to $85,500 per day, according to data intelligence firm Spark Commodities.

LNG cargoes continued to divert from Asia and other countries to Europe, and several other vessels appear to be lingering around the coast of Europe, potentially waiting for prices to pick up again after the big drops seen in Europe over the Christmas period, Songer added.

However, traders and analysts said that some cargoes did not directly benefit Northwest Europe, with cargoes onboard Minerva Chios, Maran Gas Vergina eventually delivered to Turkey and Greece and a cargo onboard Marvel Crane which was initially headed to Britain ending up in Spain instead.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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