Chinese companies that have signed long-term contracts to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas have been selling their excess inventories to Europe and reaping big profits from the sales thanks to weak demand in China, the Wall Street Journal reports.
WSJ reports that just 19 LNG vessels from the U.S. docked in China in the first eight months of the year, a far cry from 133 recorded for last year’s comparable period. China’s key buyers are located in Europe, Japan and South Korea.
China has imported nearly 30% more gas from Russia so far this year, typically at a steep discount, shipping data shows. Still, Chinese sales to Europe are not nearly enough to help the continent avoid potential shortages this winter with Europe depending more heavily on the U.S.
Europe has managed to fill its gas stores ahead of schedule. Europe’s natural gas prices have plunged sharply on news that Germany’s gas stockpiles are running ahead of schedule. Benchmark Dutch front-month futures crashed 21% in a single day, reversing the previous week’s 40% jump after Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck revealed that the country’s gas stores are filling up fast and are on target to meet the October objective of 85% full.
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According to a Reuters gas counter, 88.4% of EU gas storage is already filled.
The plunge has brought some relief after a furious rally, though futures are still trading almost six times higher than a year ago. Europe is on the brink of a recession, with inflation running at the highest in decades in several countries. European Governments have collectively set aside some 280 billion euros ($278 billion) in relief packages.
Goldman Sachs has told Barrons that Europe has managed to solve its gas crisis ahead of winter and that prices could drop by half in the next six months.
By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com
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Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com.