GLOBAL LNG-Asian spot prices surge on global restocking demand

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 30 (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) jumped this week on the back of strong demand to restock gas inventories in Europe and Asia, industry sources said.

The average LNG price for June delivery into Northeast Asia LNG-AS was estimated at about $8.85 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up $0.20 from the previous week, industry sources said.

Demand from China and Japan has remained strong as both countries re-stock in early preparation for winter, according to research firm Rystad Energy.

In the Atlantic Basin, LNG demand was also solid as European buyers replenished stock depleted when prices reached near record levels during winter.

“The market is tight, with strong demand” said Carlos Torres Diaz, head of gas and power markets research at Rystad, by phone from Oslo.

“European prices also rose proportionally more than in Asia, making it less attractive for U.S. exporters to travel all the way to China or Japan.”

The spread between Asian prices and the TTF reference index in Europe, which closed at $7.99 per mmBtu this week, narrowed to less than $1 - the difference which usually starts to make the longer trip from the Atlantic basin to Asia attractive, Diaz said.

Strong demand has been met by stable supplies from Australia, Qatar and U.S. The amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants has averaged 11.5 billion cubic feet per day in April, putting it on track to top the monthly record of 11.2 bcfd in March.

Unipec Singapore sold a cargo for June 3-7 delivery to BP PLC at $8.90 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on Thursday.

The daily charter rate for shipping LNG on a vessel able to carry around 175,000 to 180,000 cubic metres has risen to as much as $70,000 to $80,000 from around $50,000 to $65,000 last week, two shipping sources said. (Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)