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Asian LNG prices ease as supply levels remain healthy

Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices eased slightly over the past week as healthy supplies going into the northern hemisphere’s autumn season countered upward pressure from a bullish oil market.

Spot prices for November delivery LNG-AS dipped by 10 cents to $11 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), industry sources said.

That slip came despite an extremely bullish crude oil market which has seen benchmark Brent futures surge by 20 percent since mid-August ahead of U.S. sanctions against Iran’s petroleum sector that kick in from November 4.

While a major oil exporter, Iran sells no LNG, and traders said Asian gas markets were well supplied.

“Oil markets may be volatile and bullish at the moment. In LNG, things are a bit more quiet at this stage,” said a Singapore-based trader.

“Sure, demand is strong ahead of the winter heating season across North Asia, but supply is also pretty decent,” he said, declining to be identified as he was not authorised to speak with media.

The well-supplied market is reflected in the price curve, in which Brent-indexed LNG prices show a slight rise over the coming peak winter months, but with the curve easing after that into the second-half of 2019.

Japan’s Inpex said this week it shipped its first condensate export cargo from the Ichthys LNG project in Australia.

Inpex said in August that it expected the $40 billion Ichthys project to start shipping condensate, LNG and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in that order from around end-September to end-December.

LNG demand tends to rise in the second-half of a year as utilities in the demand centres of Japan, China and South Korea prepare for the peak winter consumption season.

The weather outlook for North Asia is for average conditions in the next 45 days, with Tokyo expecting slightly above average temperatures and Seoul expecting slightly cooler conditions, according to data in Refinitiv Eikon.

Beijing is expected to experience temperatures around the seasonal norm, the data showed.

Strong overall demand has returned the gas industry to good health after years of spending cuts and project cancellations between 2014 and 2017.

Royal Dutch Shell, which has the world’s biggest LNG portfolio, this week announced it would go ahead with the 14 million tonnes per annum LNG Canada project, at a cost estimate of $31 billion. The project is expected to deliver its first LNG cargo in 2025.

 

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