Analysis: No US LNG sent to Europe since early February
London, 16 March (Argus) — No US LNG cargoes have gone to Europe since early February, with most tankers headed to Mexico, northeast Asia and the Middle East instead.
Of the 35 LNG cargoes exported from the US' 25mnt/yr Sabine Pass liquefaction facility since the beginning of 2017, 18 headed through the Panama Canal and 17 east into the Atlantic, but none have declared for delivery to European destinations since 2 February.
LNG prices have moved on considerably from January and early February, when colder than average temperatures in western Europe brought many LNG buyers to the market. Buyers in Spain and Portugal purchased a total of five US LNG cargoes between them during that period. The most recent, which loaded on 2 February, was delivered to Portugal's 4mn t/yr Sines import terminal on 13 February.
Mexico has been the single largest importer of US LNG so far this year, accounting for eight cargoes, regularly buying two in each half-month of January and February. Chile has also imported a single US cargo this year, which left Sabine Pass in early February.
Japan and China have both imported three US cargoes each this year. But northeast Asia may yet receive further US LNG exports in the coming month, despite prices continuing to edge lower for delivery in April and May, as buyers in Japan and South Korea have recently released new purchase tenders. At least two undeclared spot cargoes exported from Sabine Pass are heading west towards the region.
Middle East buyers regularly attracted US cargoes earlier this year, but have been relatively quiet since early February, when two cargoes were delivered to Turkey. Jordan purchased two US cargoes from Shell in January. Jordan's Nepco recently released a tender for a single cargo to be delivered in the second half of May. That tender closes on 20 March.
India has also bought at least two of Shell's Sabine Pass cargoes, one each in early January and February. The most recent cargo exported from Sabine Pass, which loaded onto the 155,000m³ Gaslog Skagen on 15 March may also head to India. There are at least two tenders open from Indian buyers for delivery from May into August. India's Gail recently closed a tender for two cargoes to be delivered in April but the winners are not yet known.
A total of eight cargoes exported from Sabine Pass are yet to declare their delivery destinations. Only three of the vessels carrying the cargoes headed south through the Panama Canal into the Pacific Basin. Of the three, two are headed across the Pacific and likely to deliver to northeast Asian destinations by the end of this month. The third, the 160,000m³ Cool Voyage,r has just passed through the Panama Canal and may yet deliver to Mexico.
Of the five undeclared cargoes which headed east into the Atlantic, two went towards Europe but are now on approach to or passing through the Suez Canal and so are likely to deliver to buyers in the Middle East. A third, the 160,000m³ Golar Penguin is in the Indian Ocean.
The journey from the Gulf of Mexico to most Indian Ocean destinations is around five days faster by the Suez Canal route than by travelling around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope, but the former route also requires paying attentional passage fees to navigate through the canal. Most of the previous US cargoes exported to India, such at the 159,750m3 Palu LNG which delivered to Dahej on 10 March, have done so via the south Atlantic route rather than by taking the Suez Canal.
The 162,000m3 Golar Kelvin and 155,000m³ Maran Gas Apollonia are awaiting further orders offshore Florida.