Stranded LNG Tankers Point To A Major Problem In Gas Markets

An anticipated warmer winter in north Asia and Japan may be good for residents in these colder climates, but it’s starting to play havoc with LNG spot market prices and LNG shippers. The Japan Meteorological Agency and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said a few weeks ago there was a 70 percent chance of an El Nino weather pattern this year, which can result in unusually mild winters in the northern hemisphere.

Meanwhile, gas storage levels in Japan and South Korea are estimated to be at their highest since at least 2015, Reuters reported on Friday, citing traders and data from Refinitiv Eikon. Storage tanks are also filling up in China ahead of winter.

North Asia’s gas inventory typically peaks in October before significant drawdowns begin, but this year there are no signs yet of stocks falling. In fact, according to a source, at least one utility is already starting to offload unwanted winter cargoes on the spot market, which is already seeing prices for the super-chilled fuel fall to unseasonably low levels, a very pricing different scenario from just four or five months ago.

LNG spot prices in Asia spiked to four-year highs over the summer as buyers in North Asia competed for cargoes with Mexico and Egypt amid supply outages from global producers and as warmer temperatures in Asia persisted which spiked electricity demand from air conditioning usage. Production setbacks in the US, Australia and Malaysia also tightened supplies, while LNG trading volumes in Asia were also be....

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