Asian prices slip as China stays away amid lackluster demand

European countries have reported 100 percent gas storage levels. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2019

Asian prices slip as China stays away amid lackluster demand

  • LNG prices have been at multi-year seasonal lows for much of the year despite increasing consumption as China’s demand growth stabilizes

LONDON: Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) slipped this week, with many Chinese and other regional players absent from the market due to the Golden Week holiday and no respite seen from rising supplies.

The average LNG price for November delivery into northeast Asia was estimated at $5.55 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), down from $5.75 per mmBtu last week.

There were few trades done in a quiet market due to the week-long vacation in China as well as a public holiday in South Korea, traders said.

On the Platts window, Shell sold a cargo to Vitol for delivery between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2 to Tianjin, China for $6.25 per mmBtu.

Several November cargoes were offered this week — by Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.  from its Das Island plant on a delivered-ex-ship basis and from the Ichthys LNG plant in Australia, sources said.

Angola also offered a cargo for end-October loading, one source said. On Friday, Kinder Morgan’s Elba Island plant in the US state of Georgia became the fourth to start up this year. US exports so far this year have equalled the 2018 total of the world’s No. 3 exporter, Malaysia.

In Europe, natural gas prices at the Dutch hub rose with the switch of the front month to the November contract but the outlook, in the absence of any sharp drop in temperature forecasts, was bleak.

Dutch front-month prices, a European benchmark, traded at around 16 euros per megawatt hour, or $5.15, compared to $3.51 at the end of September. That was far below the $9.38 they fetched at the same time a year ago.

European countries such as France, Austria and Poland reported gas storage 100 percent full with tanks across the continent 97.4 percent full on average, data from Gas Infrastructure Europe showed on Friday.

While consumption has begun to increase with the onset of colder weather, the continent remains well supplied. Fields in Norway and Britain are not expected to ramp up supplies this month by as much as they normally do, analysts said.

Turkey’s Botas bought four winter cargoes at a discount to the Dutch benchmark, said one source who interpreted the award of the tender at such a price as a sign the sellers did not want to add to the oversupply in Europe.

Egypt meanwhile lowered gas prices fixed for the cement, metals and ceramic industries by between $1.50 and $2.00 to $5.50 to $6.00 per mmBtu.

Despite the bearish outlook, European gas traders are keeping an eye on several issues that may curtail supplies or boost demand including concerns over some French nuclear reactors and a Russia-Ukraine transit agreement.

US sanctions on Chinese oil tankers meanwhile spilled over into LNG with a number of ice-classed LNG tankers, serving the Yamal facility in northern Russia, blacklisted due to their partial ownership by a sanctioned Chinese entity.

LNG shipping rates for the Pacific basin jumped to $75,000 per day, from $61,000-$65,000 last week. Sources said this was due to seasonal demand for tankers coupled with additional demand stemming from new projects coming onstream.

Oil up on slowing pace of coronavirus, Venezuela sanctions

Updated 49 min 43 sec ago

Oil up on slowing pace of coronavirus, Venezuela sanctions

  • Financial analysts say epidemic is likely to deal a ‘short-term blow’ to global economy

LONDON: Benchmark Brent oil prices rose for a seventh consecutive day after demand worries eased with a slowing of new coronavirus cases in China and supply was curtailed by a US move to cut more Venezuelan crude from the market.

Brent was up 71 cents at $58.46 a barrel at 1510 GMT. The global benchmark has risen nearly 10 percent since falling last week to its lowest this year. US oil was up 53 cents at $52.58 a barrel.

“Those in doubt of the economic impact from the virus should take heed from Apple’s surprise sales warning ... Put simply, this is the surest sign yet of the coronavirus fallout on the global economy,” said PVM analysts in a note.

S&P Global Ratings said it expected coronavirus would deliver a “short-term blow” to economic growth in China in the first quarter, echoing findings by the International Energy Agency.

Official data showed new cases in China fell for a second straight day, although the World Health Organization said there was not enough data to know if the epidemic was being contained.

The oil market price structure is also showing signs that prompt demand for oil is picking up, as the front-month Brent futures market is moving deeper into backwardation, when near-term prices are higher than later-dated prices.

This week, oil prices were also buoyed by a US decision to blacklist a trading subsidiary of Russia’s Rosneft, which President Donald Trump’s administration said provided a financial lifeline to Venezuela’s government.

Hopes that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers would deepen supply cuts also supported prices.

The grouping, known as OPEC+, has been withholding supply to support prices and meets next month to decide a response to the downturn in demand resulting from the coronavirus epidemic.

But in the US, which is not party to any supply cut agreements, oil production has been rising. US shale production is expected to rise to a record 9.2 million barrels a day next month, the Energy Information Administration said.