The focus of the liquefied natural gas market has shifted to Europe, as Russia turning off gas supplies to Europe through the Ukraine due to a contract dispute.
The focus of the liquefied natural gas market has shifted to Europe this week, as a cold snap coincided with Russia turning off gas supplies to Europe through the Ukraine due to a contract dispute. More cargoes of the super-cooled gas are expected to head to Europe as the Russia pipeline dispute continues, and as muted Asian spot demand leaves more LNG for the Atlantic Basin markets Day-ahead gas prices for Friday in the UK were above $10 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their highest since late October, making the UK market attractively priced for LNG.
The Isle of Grain terminal in the UK has seen two cargoes delivered already this year, one on Jan.1 by BP, the other on Jan.7 by Sonatrach.
Two more BP tankers were seen heading towards Grain from Trinidad & Tobago -- the British Sapphire arriving on Jan.14 and the British Innovator arriving Jan.17.
Market sources suggested that the Innovator might in fact be a Centrica cargo in a BP tanker, bought from Petrobras which was unable to offload it at the delayed Pecem terminal in Brazil.
"I think some might argue that the cargoes coming in (to the UK) are more due to the cold weather than the Russia situation and the fact that there's nowhere else to send it. And they'll pay the price," said leading independent LNG consultant Andy Flower.
"Asian demand looks very weak to me. With NBP at $10 and Henry Hub at $6, it's virtually a no-brainer" he added.
The usually strong demand in Asia has weakened as the recession has taken hold over the past two months. Oil-indexed Asian spot prices have fallen to around $9 per mmBtu from highs above $20 in the summer, with only minimal spot trade continuing.
This fall in Asian trade has left more LNG for Europe, a change from earlier in the year when a lot of cargoes were sucked towards Asia.
Turkey seeks extra cargoes amid the Russia-Ukraine dispute
Both Turkey and Greece are seeking extra cargoes amid the Russia-Ukraine dispute, one or two for Greece and up to four for Turkey, according to Waterborne's weekly LNG report.
The amount of spot buying will depend on how long the dispute goes on. Reports Thursday suggested that a truce might be in sight as Russia said it would restore supplies to Europe through Ukraine as soon as international monitors were in place.
Imports into the United States remained slow this week, though StatoilHydro's Arctic Voyager was set to arrive at the Cove Point terminal in Maryland on Thursday, AISLive ship tracking data showed.
For the week ending Jan.4, U.S. imports averaged 0.92 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day, marginally above the 0.9 bcf per day average seen in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. figures.