SINGAPORE (March 27): Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices crashed below US$3 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) reversing three weeks of gains, after Indian buyers cancelled or diverted cargoes as a lockdown caused gas demand to slump.
The average LNG price for May delivery into northeast Asia was estimated at about US$2.80 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), down 70 cents, or 20% from the previous week, traders said.
Prices for cargoes delivered in April were estimated around US$3/mmBtu, also down 70 cents from a week ago.
Indian LNG importers, including top buyer Petronet LNG, Gail (India) and Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC), issued force majeure notices to suppliers this week as domestic demand and port operations were hit by a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, sources told Reuters.
India's GSPC also cancelled an import tender for 11 cargoes for deliveries in May to March, a company source said.
The force majeure in turn has caused a flood of supply in the spot market, depressing prices, traders said.
Qatargas has approached several buyers in Asia and Europe offering cargoes for loading or delivery in April, three sources familiar with the matter said. Two other traders said Qatar had offered about 10 cargoes, though this could not be confirmed.
Cheniere Energy also offered a cargo for early April loading from Sabine Pass, traders said.
Sakhalin Energy and Petronas were offering cargoes for delivery in May, they added.
Indonesia's Bontang plant may have sold an early-May loading cargo to a Chinese buyer, one source said, though this could not immediately be confirmed.
KUFPEC may have sold a cargo for first-half May loading from the Wheatstone plant to a portfolio company at US$3 to US$3.20 per mmBtu, the source added.
One the buy side, some requirements were seen from China and Colombia.
Thailand's PTT bought two cargoes for delivery in May from Qatargas at US$3.05 to US$3.15 per mmBtu through a buy tender, traders said.
Providing some upside, Woodside Petroleum, which produces LNG at North West Shelf LNG, Pluto LNG and has a stake in Wheatstone LNG in Western Australia, said on Friday its trading team has "recently begun placing some spot production back into China as industrial output and demand restarts".
It added that it would defer major maintenance at the North West Shelf LNG plant in Western Australia as it was slashing spending.