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MADRID (ICIS) – Spot LNG prices in Asia rose on 30 June but remained at a discount to the European TTF, following the highest TTF front-month price since 9 March.

Although demand in Japan could be strongly boosted by a heatwave, there are mixed signals from key LNG buyers China and Korea.

India has issued several unawarded tenders as its buyers struggle to meet high LNG prices.

The uncertainty in global gas markets, causing high gas price volatility, could stay for some time to come, as European countries prepare for the possibility of Russian flows dropping further, or being cut off altogether. TTF prices continued to rise in the early afternoon on 30 June.

Japan Power Shortages

Japan’s Organization for Cross-regional Coordination of Transmission Operators issued orders to seven utility companies to help improve the supply and demand situation of the Tokyo Electric Power Grid (TEPCO) area on 30 June. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said summer power demand is “expected to be harsh”.

METI also updated LNG inventories at Japan’s major power utilities on 29 June, showing a week-on-week 6.1% decline to 2.15m tonnes as of 26 June. The current storage level remains higher than the 1.95m tonnes five-year June inventory average.

China, Korea Demand

China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) may offer August cargoes to the international market, traders said. PetroChina International could also consider sales.

There was no immediate need for cargoes in Korea, according to traders early this week. Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) likely awarded nine or more cargoes in May, as well as several bilateral cargoes.

Production Problems

The union group covering Shell Prelude LNG workers at the facility in Australia said management has ordered the plant operating rate to be reduced to 35% of design capacity from the usual 94% maximum design capacity rate, impacting cargoes until mid-July. Shell confirmed delivery problems.

The outage at Freeport LNG in Texas has had a direct impact on tightening the Atlantic Basin, as the US looks to produce as much as 17% fewer cargoes than the previous month, pending the last few days of the calendar month. The fire and explosion at Freeport LNG on 8 June shut down all three trains. A partial restart could commence in September, but full repairs were not expected until the end of the year.

Algeria’s Sonatrach plans to restart some units that stopped automatically due to a power outage at its Arzew industrial plant, the company said on social media, after all trains were down following an earthquake on 27 June.

Tenders

Malaysia’s PETRONAS awarded at least one cargo to JERA at a $0.15-$0.20/MMBtu premium to a northeast-Asian marker, sources said. PETRONAS had offered two DES cargoes, 16-17 August and 29-30 August, to northeast Asia.

A DES sell cargo by Middle East producer ADNOC LNG for a dozen cargoes from 1 May 2023 to 24 September 2024, was awarded to TotalEnergies, trade sources said.

Middle East producer Oman LNG is in discussions to offer as much as 10mtpa of LNG from 2025, multiple market sources said. An expression of interest was issued earlier in June for 10-year term offtake on an oil-linked basis.

An FOB sell tender closed by Egypt’s Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) for a 3 July loading was awarded. 

India’s GAIL issued a swap tender to buy one cargo for delivery between 21-27 September, sources said. GAIL is offering a Sabine Pass FOB cargo for 27 September.

Europe Winter Warning

Shell warned of a problematic winter gas supply outlook for Europe, saying it would be impossible for Europe to cover all pipeline gas capacity out of Russia with LNG.