Argentina tenders for 12 LNG cargoes.
Argentina has tendered for 12 liquefied natural gas cargoes to be imported from March to September, one of the largest seen in the spot market this year.
Trinidad is also waiting for bids for a spot LNG cargo that should be loading on April 6, however with the exception of these tenders there is very little happening in the market and many ships are stuck without employment.
Brokers suggest that at least five LNG carriers will be available to accept the Trinidad load instantly.
Quiet market conditions have seen rates to charter LNG carriers on the spot market fall to a seven-month low of $35,000 per day.
?The market has been very quiet,? said one London broker. ?[The Trinidad tender] is the first piece of activity for a few weeks. The market has dropped off quite a bit and rates are around $10,000 per day down from the start of this year.?
Demand for LNG imports into the US and in two of the three main importers in Asia, Japan and Taiwan, has fallen since the middle of last month as domestic suppliers are using gas in storage instead, reducing interest in the spot market.
?There has been a slump in spot cargoes for the last couple of months. LNG prices have not been conducive for any inter-regional trade. There are no arbitrage opportunities and no speak of any West to East or East to West trade,? the London broker added.
There could be a bit more activity from Australia as two spot cargoes are scheduled to be exported from the North West Shelf plant in Western Australia ?loading in the next couple of months?, said another London broker.
An estimated 10 LNG carriers are idle in south east Asia this month.
LNG carrier rates ended last year at more than $45,000 per day as the Atlantic market was driven by the shipment of cargoes to Europe and the US east coast to cover additional winter demand.
Rates have also fallen for gas carriers shipping liquefied petroleum gas around north west Europe, down by nearly 20% over the last two weeks as oil companies refrained from buying spot cargoes.
The shortage of cargoes had left owners of coastal gas carriers scrambling around for any business, said a Norwegian broker.
?The market is exceptionally quiet as people are sorting out their contracts of affreightment and there is almost zero interest in buying spot cargoes. I thought there would have been more activity. Part of the problem is Wilhelmshaven is shut down for maintenance and this would usually export one spot cargo per week,? an Inge Steensland broker said.
He said the benchmark freight rate for 4,000 cu m sized gas carriers, shipping 1,800 tonnes of butane from Teesside to either Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp, fell from $45 per tonne near the end of February to $37 per tonne yesterday.
This is equivalent to a $10,000 per day decline to $8,000 per day.