March 13, 2020 / 12:08 PM / 4 months ago

GLOBAL LNG-Asian spot prices rise for second week but linger at seasonal lows

* Businesses re-open in China but end of heating season weighs

* Buyers in India, Turkey, China issue tenders to seek cargoes

* Steep drop in oil prices to benefit long-term LNG buyers

By Jessica Jaganathan

SINGAPORE, March 13 (Reuters) - Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices rose for a second straight week as low prices attracted buying interest but gains were capped by supply flooding the market.

The average LNG price for April delivery into northeast Asia LNG-AS was estimated at about $3.40 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up 20 cents from the previous week, traders said.

Prices for cargoes delivered in May were estimated to be at around $3.30/mmBtu.

While spot prices have gained slightly this week, they are still trading at their lowest for this time of year. They fell to a record low last month as the coronavirus outbreak dented industrial gas demand from China, the world's second-largest LNG buyer.

While more businesses have reopened in China in recent weeks, analysts do not expect activity to return to normal levels until April.

PetroChina, the country's top gas importer, suspended some natural gas imports, including on LNG shipments and piped gas, as a plunge in heating demand added to the impact on consumption from the coronavirus outbreak, sources said.

Lower growth in Asian LNG imports could mean a surge in LNG into Europe, which cannot absorb it due to high gas storage levels and reduced scope for coal-to-gas switching, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies said.

"The forward curves for prices suggest that there might be some shut-ins of LNG, although this may not necessarily be from the U.S.," it added.

Short-term demand for LNG has improved over the past month.

India's Torrent Power sought a cargo for delivery into Dahej in early May while GSPC sought 11 cargoes for delivery over April to March, next year, industry sources said.

Gail India may also have issued a swap tender offering cargoes from Cove Point in the United States and seeking cargoes for delivery into India, an industry source said.

Chinese utility Guangdong Energy group, previously known as Guangdong Yudean Group, was also seeking five cargoes for delivery over April to December, sources added.

Turkey's EgeGaz also sought two cargoes for delivery in April and June, sources said.

Still, supply was ample as several cargoes were offered in the spot market.

Angola LNG offered a cargo for delivery in April to as far as India while Oman LNG offered three cargoes for delivery over Mar, June and July, traders added.

Russia's Sakhalin 2 plant offered a cargo for loading in April while Abu Dhabi National Oil Co offered five cargoes for loading over May to October, sources said.

Buyers of long-term cargoes are also set to benefit from a steep drop in oil prices this week as top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia launched a price war in the face of weak demand prompted by the spread of the virus.

This is expected to curb natural gas production in the United States which could in turn boost spot prices for LNG. (Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan and Nina Chestney in London; editing by Nick Macfie)

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