Production Outages Tighten Asian Gas Market
LONDON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Asian spot LNG prices rose this week on falling production from Russia, Angola and Malaysia in an already tight market buoyed by prospective demand from China and Japan.
Spot prices <LNG-AS> for February delivery rose to $11.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up 20 cents from the previous week, according to LNG traders in Asia and Europe.
March spot LNG fetched a substantial discount at $10.50 per mmBtu, leading some buyers in Asia to attempt to defer their February purchases to save costs, traders said.
Several February cargoes were sold this week or late last week in the $11.50 per mmBtu range, traders said, including to Japan and China. Prices at three-year highs may temper demand however.
Markets tightened further as a series of production curbs took effect.
The most serious of the issues occurred when a section of the Sabah-Sarawak gas pipeline feeding Malaysia's Bintulu production complex exploded, hindering the plant's output.
Petronas subsequently delayed deliveries to buyers, putting added pressure on Asia's already strained February market.
"Given how tight supplies are now, any issue might have a price impact," a trader said.
Russia's Sakhalin II export facility is also experiencing temporary output curbs, traders said. However, a spokeswoman for the facility said it was functioning normally.
Gazprom, the plant's main shareholder, was in the market purchasing spot cargoes, traders said.
Angola LNG cancelled a spot cargo tender this week due to a technical issue that impacted production. While cancelling the tender, Angola LNG kept honouring term contracts, a trader said, adding the plant would be back to full strength in a few days.
Finally, feed gas supply into the Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana fell sharply on Sunday but volumes have recovered slowly throughout the week.
Traders cited unplanned maintenance as the cause of that disruption.
By contrast, Russia's new Yamal liquefaction plant was regularly churning out cargoes. Part of the plant's first cargo is now sailing to the Everett terminal in Boston, the United States aboard Engie's Gaselys tanker.
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