Mar 2021

Trend of Natural Gas and LNG Prices

Short-term trend

  • The assessed spot LNG price JKM for near-month delivery to Northeast Asia fell to USD 5 level in late February due to warmer temperatures and ample inventories. In March, as supply disruptions due to the shutdown and maintenance of some LNG production facilities, strong demand from China, Korea and other countries, and a firm European gas market pushed prices upward, the price was hovering around the mid-USD 6s in late March.
  • According to preliminary figures of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the average of the contracted prices of spot-LNG in February 2021 was USD 12.7 (USD 5.8 lower than January) and the average of landed prices of spot-LNG was USD 16.3 (USD 0.8 higher than January). The latter was the second consecutive month of record high.
  • In the United States, as the unusually cold weather in mid-February led to a large increase in natural gas demand and the shutdown of natural gas production facilities in Texas led to a decline in production, the HH price exceeded USD 3 in mid-February. Subsequently, as the cold wave eased, price fell, hovering in the low USD 2s in late February and around the mid USD 2s in mid-March. As the price gap with the spot market in other regions remains large, LNG export volume is expected to remain high in the months to come. On the other hand, if oil production increases due to higher crude oil prices, associated gas production will also grow, potentially pushing down natural gas prices.
  • The TTF price declined to below USD 6 in late February, and hovered in the high USD 5s during early March and has been hovering in low USD 6s since exceeding USD 6 on 10 March. Slightly cooler temperatures, higher Brent prices, and an increase in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) market are thought to be factors pushing up prices. In addition, as the gas underground storage capacity utilization rate, which was more than 50% in the same period in 2020, is about 30% in 2021, a certain level of demand for storage refilling is expected to remain steady during the spring and summer.
  • Based on the preliminary figures from Japan's customs statistics of the Ministry of Finance, the country's average LNG import price was USD 9.35 in February 2021. The average landed prices of LNG in Japan from the ASEAN region and Russia in the month were USD 7.83 and USD 8.30, respectively, lower than the average price, while the price from the United States was USD 13.13, much higher than the average. Japan’s average LNG import price (USD 9.35) was approximately half of the Northeast Asian average spot LNG price (USD 18.31) in February.
  • Japan imported 8.069 million tonnes of LNG in February 2021, 21.5% higher than same month of 2020. The import volumes exceeded 8 million tonnes over two consecutive months because of the cold weather. Japan's average import price in February was lower than Korea's USD 10.24 and Chinese Taipei's USD 9.54, but China’s average import price in February was USD 8.43. Although Korea imported more LNG in January and February 2021 than the same months in 2020 as well with the all-time record high monthly import of 5.17 million tonnes in February, Chinese Taipei imported 20% less LNG in February 2021 than one year earlier. China imported 14.04 million tonnes of LNG during the first two months of 2021, 27.2% more than the same period of 2020.

LNG and Spot Gas Prices, Mar 2020 - Mar 2021

Mid- to long-term trend

  • JKM price was around USD 6 in winter 2019 but started to decline from January 2020, reaching an all-time low of USD 1.83 at the end of April 2020 due to increasing supply and slower growth of demand. After hovering in the USD 2s from May until July, it rose again from August 2020 due to supply disruptions at several production facilities to over USD 10 in December, reaching an all-time high of USD 32.5 in January 2021 because of the cold wave. The price spike, as well as the preceding plunge, was unprecedented. However, there were only a few cargoes that changed hands at such extreme price levels is limited and the price spike turned out to be a temporary phenomenon. JKM price then plummeted, hovering in the USD 5s from February to March, and around the mid-USD 6s from mid-March.
  • Japan's average LNG import price had been declining to the USD 5s in August - October 2020, the lowest level since January 2005, due to the collapse of international crude oil prices from March 2020. Then the average price rose to the USD 7s in December 2020 as crude oil prices recovered. The average price further went up to the middle of USD 8s in January 2021 and above USD 9 in February, presumably impacted by high spot LNG prices and the increasing import from the United States at relatively high prices.

LNG and Spot Gas Prices, 2011-2021

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(source)
Henry Hub price: NYMEX Futures and Options, CME Group
NBP price: ICE Futures Europe, Intercontinental Exchange
TTF price: ICE Futures Europe, Intercontinental Exchange
JKM: LNG Japan/Korea Marker© 2021 by S&P Global Platts, a division of S&P Global Inc.
METI spot price: Spot LNG Price Statistics, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Japan’s average LNG import price: Trade Statistics of Japan

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Trend of Natural Gas and LNG Inventories

Japan

  • Japan's LNG inventories as of the end of November 2020 stood at 3.91 million tonnes, a decrease of 9.8% or 0.43 million tonnes from the preceding month, and a decrease of 24.1% from November 2019. After the LNG inventories dropped year-on-year in August 2020, they kept the same level as the five-year average until the end of October, but dropped again to 3.91 million tonnes, 0.52 million tonnes lower than the five-year average by the end of November 2020.
  • The LNG inventories for city-gas supply as of the end of November were 1.71 million tonnes, 8.4% lower than October 2020, and 34.0% lower than November 2019. LNG consumption for city-gas was 2.55 million tonnes, increasing by 4.4% year-on-year in November 2020. City-gas companies received 2.02 million tonnes of LNG in November, decreasing year-on-year by 12.0%. The LNG inventories of 1.71 million tonnes were the lowest for the end of November since 2017.
  • The LNG inventories for power generation in November 2020 were 2.19 million tonnes, decreasing by 11.0% from October 2020 and 14.0% lower than November 2019. LNG consumption in November 2020 increased by 9.0% year-on-year to 3.93 million tonnes, while LNG receipts for power generation in the month increased by 4.4% year-on-year to 4.29 million tonnes.

Japan end of month LNG inventory, 2019-2020

Japan end of month LNG inventory, 2010-2020

(Source)
Compiled based on data from Gas Business and Thermal Power Generation Statistics, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.As the inventory data is available for the period only after January 2008, the five-year average is applicable only after January 2013.

United States

  • As of 12 March 2021, working gas in underground natural gas storage in the United States was 1.78 Tcf, a 21.9% decrease from the previous month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gas inventories were 12.4% lower than those at the same time in 2020 and were 93 Bcf lower than the past five-year average. The inventories are within the five-year range since November 2020.
  • According to the monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) released by the EIA in March 2021, inventory withdrawals were estimated to be 0.83 Tcf in February 2021, the largest withdrawals ever for February. The cause was the record withdrawals in the South-Central region, including Texas, due to the extraordinary cold wave in mid-February. The five-year (2016–20) average February withdrawals ware 452 Bcf. EIA forecasts that natural gas inventories will end March 2021 at 1.6 Tcf, which is 13% lower than the five-year average. EIA forecasts that natural gas inventories will ultimately end the 2021 injection season (end of October) at almost 3.7 Tcf, which is 2% less than the five-year average.

U.S. Natural Gas Underground Storage, Mar 2020 - Mar 2021)

U.S. Natural Gas Underground Storage, 2011-2021

(Source)
Compiled based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Europe

  • As of 17 March 2021, the stored volume of natural gas in European underground storage facilities operated by the Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory (AGSI +) members (including EU member companies and Serbia and Ukraine member companies) was 349 TWh. The inventories were 21.0% down from the previous month and 44.0% lower year-on-year, and 49.1 TWh lower than the five-year (2016-2020) average. On 17 March 2021, although the working gas volume in storage represented 32% of the capacity and was much lower than 56% one year earlier, it was just slightly lower than the average on the same day over the past five years of 36%.
  • Withdrawal in the winter of 2020-2021 will increase significantly to approximately 760 TWh because of the colder weather in Europe, the largest withdrawal in three winters after 773 TWh registered in the winter of 2017-2018. Although during the refilling season in 2019 a lot of natural gas was stored to take advantage of the seasonal spread of natural gas prices, due to the warm winter in the demand area the withdrawal in the winter of 2019-2020 was only 485 TWh.

European Natural Gas Storage, Mar 2020 - Mar 2021

European Natural Gas Storage, 2011-2021

(Source)
Compiled based on data from Gas Infrastructure Europe, Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory (AGSI). As the inventory data is available for the period only after January 2011, the five-year average is applicable only after January 2016.

Latest Developments in Major Natural Gas and LNG Projects

Highlights

  • Among LNG project development activities and LNG transactions, there have been more initiatives either to reduce GHG emissions such as CCS, to offset emissions and deliver carbon-neutral LNG, or to provide more information on GHG footprints.

 

Asia and Oceania

  • Mitsui & Co. and Hokkaido Gas announced on 26 February 2021 a basic agreement for supply of carbon neutral LNG which will be the first carbon-neutral LNG in Hokkaido and for Mitsui to supply. The agreement is based on a long-term LNG sale and purchase agreement (SPA) concluded in October 2017. With respect to the carbon-neutral LNG to be delivered at the Ishikari LNG receiving terminal on 18 March 2021, Mitsui will offset the CO2 emission (carbon offset) on a life cycle basis including feed gas production, liquefaction and combustion by using the carbon credits. The volume represents 10% of Hokkaido Gas' annual LNG requirement.
  • Tokyo Gas announced on 9 March 2021 that the company and 14 end-user companies including Toshiba Corporation, Mitsubishi Estate, Asahi Group Holdings, and Isuzu Motors, had established the Carbon Neutral LNG Buyers Alliance, aiming at further penetration of Carbon Neutral LNG (CNL) and enhancing its value.
  • Tokyo Gas started operation of the No.2 LNG tank at the Hitachi LNG Terminal in March 2021. During the past year, Fukushima Gas Power Company's LNG tank at the JAPEX Soma LNG Terminal and Hokkaido Electric Power's No.4 LNG tank at the Ishikari LNG Terminal started operations in August and October, respectively. The total LNG storage capacity of the three LNG tanks was 690,000 kl, increasing Japan’s total LNG storage capacity by about 3.5%.
  • Pavilion Energy announced on 22 February 2021 that Pavilion Energy and Chevron had signed a six-year SPA for 0.5 million tonnes of LNG per year to Singapore from 2023. Each LNG cargo will be accompanied by a statement of its GHG emissions measured from wellhead to discharge port.
  • Sri Lanka's largest electric power supplier, Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), issued on 18 February 2021 a tender notice to invite bids for a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) to be deployed at Kerawalapitiya.

 

North America

  • According to EIA’s February 2021 Natural Gas Monthly, total exports of natural gas increased by 13.1%, from 12.8 Bcf/d in 2019 to 14.4 Bcf/d in 2020. LNG exports increased by 31.0%, from 5.0 Bcf/d in 2019 to 6.5 Bcf/d in 2020 (50 million tonnes). Dry natural gas production decreased by 1.9% for the year, from 93.1 Bcf/d in 2019 to 91.3 Bcf/d in 2020. Estimated natural gas consumption decreased by 2.3%, from 85.2 Bcf/d in 2019 to 83.3 Bcf/d in 2020.
  • Cheniere Energy announced on 24 February 2021 that it planned to begin providing its LNG customers with GHG emissions data associated with each LNG cargo produced at the Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi liquefaction facilities. The Cargo Emissions Tags (CE Tags) are designed to enhance environmental transparency by quantifying the estimated GHG emissions of LNG cargoes from the wellhead to the cargo delivery point, and are expected to be provided to customers beginning in 2022. The CE Tags will be calculated utilizing Cheniere's proprietary lifecycle analysis model.
  • NextDecade announced on 18 March 2021 the formation of NEXT Carbon Solutions, LLC. The subsidiary is expected to develop the CCS project at the Rio Grande LNG project. NextDecade anticipates achieving FID on a minimum of two trains at Rio Grande LNG in 2021 and FID on the CCS project soon after FID at Rio Grande LNG.

 

Europe and Russia

  • Hanseatic Energy Hub announced on 22 February 2021 the completion of the non-binding phase of the Open Season with confirmed market interest from global players supporting the full 12 Bcm per year planned capacity of the terminal near the city of Stade in the vicinity of the Port of Hamburg, Germany. Fluxys announced on 3 March 2021 that the company and shareholders of Hanseatic Energy Hub, developer of the LNG terminal project in Stade near Hamburg, had agreed on Fluxys joining the project.
  • Spain's Reganosa announced on 22 February 2021 that it would operate and maintain the first LNG terminal in Sardinia (Italy), in the port of Oristano on the west of the island. The Higas facilities are expected to be operational in the first half of 2021, with a jetty capable of receiving LNG vessels up to 20,000 cubic meters, six tanks (1,500 cbm each), two LNG truck loading bays, and a gas-fired power generation system.
  • Excelerate Energy announced on 12 March 2021 that the company, ExxonMobil, and Albania's Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 12 March 2021, to conduct a feasibility study for the potential development of an LNG receiving terminal in the Port of Vlora in Southern Albania. The targeted start-up for the LNG Import Project could be as early as 2023.
  • Russia's NOVATEK announced on 25 February 2021 that NOVATEK Gas & Power Asia and Shenergy Group signed a long-term SPA for the LNG produced from the Arctic LNG 2 project for more than 3 million tonnes over 15 years to be delivered to LNG terminals in China on DES basis.
  • Shell announced on 8 March 2021 that Shell Global LNG Limited recently had received the first ever carbon neutral LNG cargo in Europe from Gazprom, unloaded at the Dragon LNG terminal in Wales.

 

Other regions

  • Qatar Petroleum (QP) announced on 1 March 2021 the award of a major engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract to Samsung C&T Corporation for the expansion of the LNG storage and loading facilities as part of the North Field East (NFE) Project. The contract, valued at more than USD 2 billion (including options), was awarded on a lump sum basis and is the second major onshore EPC contract award for the NFE project.
  • QP announced on 22 February 2021 that it had entered into a long-term SPA with Vitol for the supply of 1.25 million tonnes per year of LNG to Vitol's final customers in Bangladesh with deliveries commencing in 2021.
  • QP announced on 26 February 2021 that it had entered into a long-term SPA with Pakistan State Oil Company (PSO) for 3 million tonnes per year of LNG for 10 years from 2022. The latest agreement raises the total of long-term LNG supplies from Qatar to Pakistan to 6.75 million tonnes per year.
  • The Israel Ministry of Energy announced on 22 February 2021 that energy ministers of Israel and Egypt had agreed on the construction of offshore gas pipeline from the Leviathan gas field to the liquefaction facilities in Egypt, in order to increase the gas exports to Europe through the liquefaction facilities in Egypt.
  • Eni announced on 22 February 2021 that the first LNG cargo since 2012 from the Damietta liquefaction plant in Egypt was produced and lifted.
  • Nigeria's Templars Law Firm announced on 10 February 2021 that its client UTM Offshore Limited had secured a License to Establish (LTE) Nigeria's first Floating LNG (FLNG) Production Plant with 1.2 million tonne per year capacity, issued by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). The plant would process natural gas and condensate from Oil Mining Lease 104.
  • Vitol announced on 1 March 2021 that it had launched a Green LNG product for its LNG customers. The emissions associated with the cargo, from wellhead to DES delivery, will be offset through the cancellation of Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs).

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