Liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes generally do not avoid the U.S. market when gas prices here are low, according to analysts at Barclays Capital, who offer a list of other factors that drive LNG movement to the United States far more than price.

"Some of the price responsiveness is masked by growth in overall LNG deliveries this year," the analysts wrote in a recent research note. "Nevertheless, the bulk of trading moves without a strong link to price. All deliveries over the past two years should have had handsome margins above operating costs, so we have not tested the mettle of shippers.

"We believe that LNG will continue to display this muted response to price, with some volumes delivered to the U.S. even in low-price periods, and a growing tranche that is price-responsive."

According to the analysts, factors affecting deliveries of LNG to the United States ranked by influence are:

"This is a powerful message to the North American gas market," the analysts wrote. "LNG volumes should not be considered a simple function of price. Deliveries will be a function of the same factors listed above, even as the volume of flexible trade expands dramatically in the years ahead."

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