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Cold Spell Across Northeast Asia Push LNG Prices to Record Highs in January

  • 8-Jan-2021
  • Journalist: Jaideep Kumar

The northeast Asian spot Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) prices are facing the perfect storm due to a number of market factors, surprising the winter price expectations of most market players. Consumers were heard actively restocking the material to replenish LNG inventories amid dipping temperatures across the region. Abrupt surge in winter deliveries up to February, backed by curtailed production at various plants in the US, Malaysia, Australia and Indonesia, and unexpected delays faced while transporting US-origin LNG carriers through the Panama Canal destined to northeast Asia are the key drivers of price escalations. Boosted power consumption has triggered a dramatic inventory draw-down in Japan, South Korea and China. JERA, Japan’s largest electricity generator and the world’s largest consumer of LNG, and several other power generators across Japan are competing with the northeast Asian LNG buyers who are scrambling to secure LNG supplies. As per ChemAnalyst’s market sources, LNG prices across major northeast Asian countries have risen to USD 20 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) in January. It is being estimated that the prices in Japan by the first-half February may touch USD 30 mmBtu levels, as the country’s power consumption has soared tremendously on stronger-than-usual electricity demand for heating purposes because of unexpected winter chills. Natural gas is a hydrocarbon that is formed as a fossil reserve deep beneath the earth's crust. The largest component of Natural Gas is Methane (CH4) which also contains smaller amounts of Natural Gas liquids (NGL) and nonhydrocarbon gases, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor. Because it is a cleaner and cheaper fuel than other fossil fuels, LNG is likely to become an important bunker fuel for ships and electricity in the economies of Asia.

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