LNG market watch: Red Sea tensions, economic factors shape global pricing

New Delhi: The global Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market faced the prevailing challenges and fluctuations in key indicators during the week of January 22-26, 2024.

According to S&P Global Commodity Insights, milder temperatures, especially in Europe and the United States, contributed to a weakened outlook for LNG prices, while attention remained on the situation in the Red Sea, adding an element of uncertainty to market dynamics.

Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, reported that the March Japan Korea Marker (JKM) was assessed at USD 9.206/MMBtu on January 22.

The West India market for March was assessed at USD 9/MMBtu. However, global LNG prices were expected to remain weak in the near term due to the return of milder temperatures.

European LNG prices experienced a downward trend, influenced by mild weather conditions and robust gas inventories.

Despite sporadic cold spells and geopolitical tensions in the Red Sea, prices in Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean did not witness a substantial uptick.

The DES Northwest Europe Marker for March was assessed at USD 8.357/MMBtu on January 19, showing a daily increase but a significant weekly decline.

Gas storage levels in the European Union (EU) fell slightly, but LNG inventories remained healthy. Traders approached the market cautiously, testing it opportunistically rather than engaging in significant trading activities.

The bearish sentiment was expected to persist due to milder temperatures and weak industrial and economic activity.

The FOB Gulf Coast Marker was assessed at USD 7.12/MMBtu on January 19, reflecting an increase on the day but a notable decrease on the week.

The market in the United States faced bearish headwinds, with high inventories and milder temperatures dampening demand. US LNG exports increased in January, with a significant portion directed to Europe.

Analysts at S&P Global highlighted the impact of the Cape of Good Hope route, emphasizing its low risk and predictability in loading and discharging times.

However, the longer travel distance increased overall transportation costs. LNG swaps faced a bearish sentiment as milder temperatures persisted, and buying interest remained lower than expected in both Europe and Asia.

On the Northwest European forward curve, full-month March was assessed at USD 8.298/MMBtu, with April 2024 and May 2024 at USD 8.218/MMBtu and USD 8.235/MMBtu, respectively.

Traders anticipated March and April for potential buying interest, closely monitoring weather forecasts. The impact of events in the Red Sea and alternative shipping routes added complexity to market dynamics, with potential consequences for shipping rates and gas prices.

The global LNG market continued to navigate a challenging landscape, influenced by weather conditions, geopolitical events, and shipping dynamics.

The bearish sentiment prevailed in the short term, but market participants remained vigilant for potential shifts in demand and supply dynamics.

(With inputs from ANI)


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