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China Gets First U.S. LNG Since Slapping Tariff Two Months Ago

LNG Asia

China has received its first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States since it imposed in mid-September a 10-percent tariff on U.S. LNG imports in the heated tit-for-tat trade tariffs this summer, Reuters reports, citing Refinitiv Eikon shipping data.

LNG tanker Ribera Duero Knutsen departed from Sabine Pass in the U.S. on October 10, according to MarineTraffic, and arrived at the Zhejiang Ningbo terminal in China on Sunday, November 11, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

According to the shipping data, this was the first U.S. LNG tanker to be sent to China since September 10, a week before Beijing slapped the 10-percent import tariff.

Although the levy is lower than China’s initial threat of a 25-percent tariff, analysts think that the tariffs are bound to influence the LNG market in the short-term with winter coming in the northern hemisphere, and in the long-term with shifting trade routes.

China was the second-biggest buyer of U.S. LNG in the 12 months to June 2018. But after the trade war began in earnest, Chinese buyers began to cut purchases of American LNG, according to Wood Mackenzie.

“The impact on the short term market is likely to be less than we previously indicated. This is partly because the level of the tariff is lower than initially proposed, 10% now vs 25% in August, but also because we think China has already completed the majority of its procurement for winter,” Wood Mackenzie’s Farrer said in September after China announced the tariff.

Related: Permian Drillers Prepare To Go Into Overdrive In 2019

Commenting on the first U.S. LNG arrival since September, Jeff Moore, manager of Asian LNG Analytics at S&P Global Platts, said:

“What is shocking about this cargo making its way to China is that it seems to be because of lack of demand elsewhere.”

According to Moore, U.S. LNG cargoes to China will continue to be limited because of the tariff, but weaker-than-expected LNG prices in Asia and rising prices in the European and U.S. gas hubs would see U.S. cargoes traveling to the Atlantic basin in the near term.

A source with Cheniere Energy told Platts last week that the U.S. LNG exporter had swapped all its cargoes to PetroChina with LNG sourced from outside the United States, with Cheniere’s business in China not expected to be affected by the tariffs, thanks to “very flexible terms with our customers.”  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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