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MEXICO CITY (ICIS) — European gas prices were boosted by forecasts of colder temperatures in Europe, which supported consumption for both domestic and gas-for-power demand.

The ICIS TTF benchmark was also strengthened by an unplanned Norwegian outage. The TTF front-month contract edged up by 2% from 1 to 6 December. The East Asia Index (EAX) softened, with the front-month EAX assessment falling by 6% over the same period, with fewer key buyers in the market.

However, China recently announced updated public health guidelines, abandoning key elements of its zero-Covid policy. The announcement could mark a shift to a broader opening, therefore larger consumption, that could lead to increased demand from China.

European Import Updates

Russia’s Gazprom pipeline natural gas to Europe is now flowing at its highest rate in nearly three months, along the Europe-bound section of the TurkStream pipeline. Flows have risen close to the 43mcm/day capacity, up from its recent range of 30-35mcm/day on buyer demand. 

Flows of Russian gas via Ukraine to the European Union and Moldova remained unchanged at 42mcm/day. Local German officials maintained the ambiguity about approval for the new Deutsche ReGas import project at Lubmin after they received 1,099 objections to the project during its public consultation. The Neptune FSRU is at the nearby Mukran port undergoing final modifications for the project.

The Dutch Eemshaven terminal is expected to be under maintenance until 11 December. The work is expected to increase the terminal’s send-out capacity. The terminal opened in September with only the 170,00cbm Golar Igloo in operation. 

Gasgrid Finland’s LNG import terminal at Inkoo is now expected to commence commercial operations by mid-January 2023, later than initially expected. Commissioning of the terminal would happen later this month.

The 170,000 cbm Hoegh Esperanza reloaded a cargo from Sagunto in Spain and is now signaling a course to Wilhelmshaven in Germany for arrival on 12 December. This will be the first LNG cargo into Germany. Onboard the vessel is around 25% of Germany’s current daily gas demand, according to LNG analysts.

Asia Demand

China’s customs data released November numbers for natural gas imports. The total import value, including piped and LNG, was 10.32 m tonnes. For January-December, China imported 99.01m tonnes of natural gas, 9.7% lower than in the same period last year. 

Japanese utility Tohoku Electric started commercial operations of its 572MW Joetsu 1 gas-fired plant on 1 December. The utility also bought a mid-January cargo last week.

The 174,000 cbm Aristos 1 reloaded a cargo from Gwangyang, South Korea, the second Korean reload this year. The vessel arrived in Singapore on 7 December.

Tenders 

Indian grid operator GAIL did not award a three-cargo swap tender issued on 2 December, according to trade sources. GAIL offered to sell three cargoes on a DES basis, potentially to Europe, loading from December ’22 to March ’23 from either US Cove Point or Sabine Pass. GAIL sought to buy three cargoes for delivery into the Dahej terminal. The tender closed on 6 December.

Angola LNG issued a new sell tender on 2 December, with offers due 8 December. The cargo is expected to be loaded on the 160,000 cbm Soyo, with delivery dates ranging from 13-28 January 2023.

Longer-Term Agreements

France’s ENGIE is to buy 0.875 mtpa of LNG for 15 years from US Sempra under the terms of a new sales and purchase agreement (SPA) announced by Sempra. The LNG will be free on board from Sempra’s proposed Port Arthur project in Texas. Sempra aims for a final investment decision (FID) in the first quarter of 2023.

The US and UK proposed a deal for at least 9-10 bcm of LNG to the UK over the next year, along with other energy-related initiatives.