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Northeast Asia LNG prices hit 10-month high before winter sets in: WGI

Bloomberg

Liquefied natural gas prices for Northeast Asia rose this week to their highest level in 10 months as buyers sought more supplies before colder weather arrives, according to Energy Intelligence Group.

Power-station fuel for delivery over the next four to eight weeks increased to $18 per million British thermal units in the period through Tuesday, up from $17.50, the New York-based research company said on the website of its World Gas Intelligence publication. Southwest Europe prices were at $12.10, compared with $11.90.

“Sellers point to forecasts of a colder than normal winter across the region as supportive of continued price escalation,” according to WGI.

Asian buyers typically buy more spot cargoes from December to March to meet peak heating and power consumption during winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Prices reached a record $19.40 per million Btu in February. Demand in the region was boosted by the shutdown of nuclear reactors after the March 2011 disaster started at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

While offers for December cargoes are around $18 per million Btu, buyers are holding off on spot purchases, preferring to discuss advance deliveries in January and February with long-term suppliers, according to WGI.

Spot LNG shipments at a price of $18 per million Btu would exceed typical term contract costs, WGI said. Long-term agreements, generally more than 10 years, typically are linked to the price of Brent crude or the so-called Japan Crude Cocktail.

The only spot cargoes available to Asia will load this month from storage at European receiving terminals, according to WGI. Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, which don’t produce LNG, have stored gas for as many as four shipments, it said.

Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co., the world’s second-biggest producer, halted a liquefaction plant at the beginning of this month for planned maintenance, said two sources.