Prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for January 2014 delivery to Asia increased 7.2% from December to $18.958 per million British thermal units (/MMBtu), as North Asian buyers continued to compete for winter cargoes, according to the latest Platts Japan/Korea Marker (JKM) for month-ahead delivery. The monthly average Platts JKM for delivery in January 2014 was assessed from November 18 to December 13.
The January-delivery price increase followed a 11.5% rise for the prior month, when the December-delivery price averaged $17.689/MMBtu.
On a year-over-year basis, the average January JKM was up 21.3% from the January 2013 average of $15.630/MMBtu.
“Aggressive procurement efforts from China’s buyers, who faced significant shortfalls in winter natural gas supplies, gave enough support for sellers to raise their offers and push deals into the $19/MMBtu level,” said Max Gostelow, associate editor of Asia LNG at Platts, a leading global energy, petrochemicals and metals information provider and a premier source of benchmark price references. “Following the China purchases for January, demand from buyers in Japan and South Korea buyers was much more subdued.”
Remaining buyers were reluctant to conclude deals above $19/MMBtu and cited several factors that suppressed demand: a combination of ample LNG supplies in tank, moderate temperatures in North Asia, and LNG prices already at or approaching oil parity. The apparent unsold number of Atlantic supplies remaining in the market also capped prices.