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LNG Market Still Facing Serious Challenges

The existing supply/demand imbalance of the LNG market is expected to continue unabated in the coming months, with producers expected to face significant challenges to keep the market well supplied. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal said that “the LNG market remains tight currently, mainly driven by the US LNG outage from the recent fire in Freeport LNG terminal together with the recent fall of gas flows to Europe from Russia, resulting in whipsaw patterns in gas prices in the EU/US. The EU/US Taskforce to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas held a meeting on June 14th, planning further US LNG exports to the EU, amidst a flurry of commercial activity due to the recent fire at the Freeport LNG export terminal in Texas, which initiated on the 8th of June. Officials said, during the previous week, that damage from the fire at its Texas plant would keep it fully offline until September with only partial operation through year-end. Following the news of the extended shutdown, natural gas prices slumped in the United States and soared in Europe”.

According to Intermodal’s Ms. Chara Georgousi, “the closure came as pipeline supplies from Europe’s top providers are also capped. For instance, key facilities in Norway have been undergoing annual maintenance, while Russia’s supplies are below capacity after several European buyers were cut off for refusing to meet Moscow’s demands to be ultimately paid in rubles for its pipeline fuel. Russian gas supply to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline fell further on June 16th, and Moscow said more delays in repairs could lead to suspending all flows, putting a brake on Europe’s race to refill its gas inventories. Russia clearly steps up the use of energy as a weapon, prompting Germany to accuse Kremlin of trying to drive up prices. There is a very real probability that European conventional storage will start the new withdrawal period with low stocks again, indicating tightness in LNG and gas markets lasts well into 2023”.

Ms. Georgousi added that “more specifically TTF closed at $84.400MMBtu on June 1st, but following the fire news, it marked at climbed to $91.550MMBtu intraweek. Last week it was traded up to $148.745 MMBtu on June 16th, marking an intamonth high, after the cut in gas flows from Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Key underlying drivers in bringing LNG prices together are weak demand in North Asia, the world’s main consuming region, amidst the latest lockdown in China, as well as strong demand in Europe due to the policy pivot towards LNG and away from dependence on Russian pipeline gas. The wave of new supply additions to the global LNG market seen during 2015-2020 is slowing down considerably and considering minimal growth during 2020 and 2021, supply seems to be outstripped by demand. Supply will most likely remain curbed, while Gazprom’s CEO is warning that there is no solution at the moment for issues with gas turbines, essential for the pipeline’s functioning. That said, refilling of storage tanks for the winter when demand typically peaks is threatened. With European gas supplies being already squeezed and on the back of a dearth of gas supplies for the coming winter, a return to coal now seems the only viable option for EU countries”.

Source: Intermodal

“While gas demand in China will remain the engine of global LNG growth, disruptions in new LNG production out of the US which was set out to be the key to global balance over 2022, form the main market indicators which are pointing in the same direction and they are, undoubtedly, signaling a supply/demand imbalance that will continue to nibble sentiment in the short term”, Ms. Georgousi concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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