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Qatar Cuts LNG Prices And Expands Into Asian Spot Market

Qatar is cutting prices for its gas and expanding into the Asian spot market as it seeks to maintain its number-one position in exports of liquefied natural gas.

According to unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg, the country has shifted its priority from prices to market share, hence the price undercutting and the push ahead with a production capacity expansion worth $29 billion. The goal is to increase LNG exports by 50 percent.

With this strategy, Qatar threatens the commercial viability of new LNG production capacity projects in the rest of the world, according to the report.

Australia has been breathing down Qatar’s neck for a couple of years now, at one point temporarily overtaking it as the world’s largest LNG exporter. The United States is also boosting its exports of the superchilled fuel. Last month exported almost as much as Qatar.

In truth, the reason for this was maintenance at a big production facility in Qatar, but the Gulf nation has reason to feel threatened by emerging competitors. Even so, it retains some major advantages over this competition.

“Nobody can compete with Qatari costs,” according to Jonathan Stern, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, as quoted by Bloomberg in its report. “They can do whatever they like and everybody will have to respond the way they can. And, especially when the market is in surplus and prices are low, that will impact the competition’s profits.”

Yet some LNG supply elsewhere remains competitive even at lower prices, such as Russian Novatek’s Yamal LNG and U.S. Cheniere Energy’s output. This is because of buyers’ desire to not have to rely on a single source of LNG and diversify their sources of the fuel, and because of U.S. producers’ flexible delivery terms and the fact that their prices are not tied to crude oil benchmarks.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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