BUDAPEST, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Switzerland-based MET International AG plans to boost its liquefied natural gas (LNG) trades in Europe by 50 to 100 percent next year, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday.
Gyorgy Vargha said that while the company had traded one cargo, or 60,000 tonnes of LNG, per month this year, this is expected to rise to between 1.5 and two cargoes per month in 2018 as MET seeks to increase its role in that segment.
MET International was established in 2010 as the natural gas trading arm of parent MET Group, whose activities include gas, oil and power generation in Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, among others. In August, MET announced it had established subsidiaries in Italy and Bulgaria.
"LNG traded volumes are roughly 25 percent of our physical gas deliveries yet below 5 percent of our traded gas volumes," Vargha said in an emailed reply to Reuters questions. "We plan to keep this ratio with growing both significantly."
MET also expects further growth in pipeline gas trades, as it deepens its footprint in its existing markets, he said.
Most countries in Central Europe, including Hungary, whose economies rely heavily on natural gas, have been buying gas from Russia's Gazprom. Hungary is talking with Russia about possibly extending its long-term gas supply deal beyond 2021.
Natural gas supplies to Eastern Europe have been a major area of competition between incumbent pipeline power Russia and the United States, which is touting its LNG potential in the region via onshore LNG terminals.
Poland and Lithuania now have LNG terminals and can access new sources of natural gas. Croatia aims to have its own LNG terminal operating on the northern Adriatic island of Krk by mid-2019.
Vargha said MET planned to enter the Polish market but the regulatory environment posed difficulties. He did not elaborate.
Since its terminal opened in 2016, Poland has received spot deliveries of LNG from Norway, the United States and Qatar.
"LNG has a role in the region, even if the regional demand is not that high in total," Vargha said. (Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Dale Hudson)