March 19 (Reuters) - Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices were almost steady this week, with the world’s largest buyers in the Pacific absorbing supply as U.S. exports recover after the Texas storm.
The average LNG price for May delivery into Northeast Asia LNG-AS was estimated at about $6.55 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), in line with the previous week, trader sources said.
U.S. LNG exports appear to have fully recovered to the record-high levels observed early this year before Texas was hit hard by a polar vortex, consultancy firm Rystad Energy said.
U.S. natural gas futures slipped to a near eight-week low, making the international market attractive for sellers.
“China, Japan and South Korea have been very active and are helping to keep the market tight,” Carlos Torres Diaz, head of Gas and Power Market Research at Rystad said by phone.
Prices were stable despite a warmer season in the northern hemisphere, which reduces demand for heating.
Temperatures in Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul are expected to be higher than average over the next two weeks, weather data from Refinitiv Eikon showed, reducing heating demand.
LNG charter rates have fallen to around $25,000 per day in the Atlantic basin compared to an all-time high of more than $300,000 per day in January during a cold spell, traders said.
Argentina bought on Tuesday 24 cargoes for its winter supply for an average price of $6.50 per mmBtu in a $330 million tender, the government said in a note. The country’s Energy secretary Darío Martínez said the state-controlled energy company Iaesa paid less than the $7.25 it had estimated.
BP PLC won 15 of the cargoes; Gunvor Group Ltd won 5; French Total, two. Trafigura and Naturgy won one cargo each, the secretary said.
Royal Dutch Shell was granted import permits in Brazil through 2024.
Qatar Petroleum announced it will boost LNG output by about 40% to 110 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) by 2026 (Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Toby Chopra)