GLOBAL LNG-Asian spot LNG prices jump 9% on robust demand

* China’s gas demand likely to grow 10% this winter-oil majors

* Europe, China and Korea to experience colder than normal winters

* Freight rates soar to highest in a year

LONDON/SINGAPORE, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) jumped nearly 9% this week from a week ago, as demand continued to rebound in the region’s key importing countries ahead of winter.

The average LNG price for December delivery into Northeast Asia LNG-AS was estimated at about $7.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up 60 cents from the previous week.

Asian spot LNG prices have jumped by more than 40% since the start of the month due to firm demand and production issues.

Oil major BP this week sold an LNG cargo for delivery into Northeast Asia in December to Vitol at $7.65 per mmBtu, S&P Global Platts data showed.

China’s natural gas demand is likely to grow about 10% this winter, up from 0.3% last winter, as a strong economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis spurs residential and industrial demand, state-run oil majors said this week.

Europe, China and Korea could experience a colder-than- normal winter by 2-3 degrees Celsius, which would be positive for LNG demand, analysts at Bernstein said.

“With the prospect of a cold winter ahead, prices could go higher but further shutdowns due to COVID-19 appear to be a real risk.”

Rising shipping rates, which have hit a one-year high, are also boosting the LNG market.

On the buy side, Bangladesh’s state-owned Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company is seeking two LNG cargoes for delivery in December, while China’s Guangzhou Gas is seeking a cargo for delivery in December, traders said.

Japan’s JERA likely bought a cargo for late-December delivery at around $7.20 per mmBtu, while a sell tender by Papua New Guinea may have been awarded at $7.40 per mmBtu on a delivered basis, traders said.

In Europe, Equinor’s Melkoeya LNG plant in Norway could remain closed until October 2021 as extensive repairs are carried out following a fire last month, the company said. (Reporting by Nina Chestney in London and Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; editing by Uttaresh.V)