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China Seeks Cheap Spot LNG Supply as Prices Dip to Three-Year Low

Chinese LNG importers are on the lookout for cheaper supply of liquefied natural gas on the spot market as prices in North Asia have halved from October levels and slid to a nearly three-year low last week, traders familiar with the deals told Bloomberg on Thursday.

Shenzhen Energy Group and China Gas Holdings Ltd have entered into talks with potential suppliers for more spot LNG cargoes for the coming months, while China Resources Gas Group has bought a shipment for delivery in the middle of March, Bloomberg's sources said.

China - the world's top importer of the fuel after outstripping Japan, again - has returned to the spot market in search of cheaper LNG supply as prices tumble. Currently, spot LNG supply is competitive with local gas and oil products, according to Bloomberg's sources.  

As natural gas inventories in Europe and Asia are at comfortable levels for a winter season, and demand is tepid in both continents, the average spot LNG price for April delivery into Northeast Asia plunged by 7.4% last week to $8.80 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), according to estimates from industry sources quoted by Reuters. That was the lowest Asian spot LNG price since the end of April 2021.

Demand was weak in the past two weeks even in China, due to the Lunar New Year holiday, and overall demand in Asia is lower amid high inventories both in Asia and in Europe.

As a result, spot LNG prices in Asia have now halved compared to the levels from October 2023, just before the 2023/2024 winter began.

As the winter season in the northern hemisphere is drawing to a close, spot LNG prices are expected to further slide into the spring, analysts say.

Chinese LNG imports have recovered from a decline in 2022 when a spike in prices and Covid restrictions hit demand, but they are still lower compared to the levels seen in 2021.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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Charles Kennedy

Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com More

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