Prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for December delivery to Asia increased 11.5% from November to $17.689 per million British thermal units (/MMBtu), as North Asian buyers began to build inventories ahead of the peak winter months, according to the latest Platts Japan/Korea Marker (JKM) for month-ahead delivery. The monthly average Platts JKM for delivery in December was assessed from October 15 to November 15.
The December-delivery price increase followed a 4.1% rise for the prior month, when the November-delivery price averaged $15.864/MMBtu.
On a year-over-year basis, the average December JKM was up 30.8% from the December 2012 average of $13.529/MMBtu and was the strongest year-over-year gain registered for 2013.
A steep price contango* early this month for cargoes to be delivered in December enticed buyers from North East Asia back into the market by mid-month. The price spread between December and January prices narrowed, given that much of this demand was centered on cargoes delivered in late December.
“As winter demand picked up in anticipation of lower temperatures across North Asia, prices rose,” said Stephanie Wilson, managing editor of Asia LNG at Platts, a leading global energy, petrochemicals and metals information provider and a premier source of benchmark price references. “Prices were further underpinned by strong Free-on-Board (FOB) offers from European resellers who were under no pressure to move volumes ahead of January.”
A lack of spare LNG supply from Asia-Pacific producers, coupled with rising winter demand from Japan and buyers across North Asia has created a tight supply situation in the spot market that has pushed prices higher for December.
“There are questions in the marketplace whether buyers will be able to meet their incremental winter demand when their Annual Delivery Program contracts start in January,” Wilson said.