Spot LNG shipping rates, European prices drop this week

Spot charter rates for the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier fleet dropped slightly this week, while European and Asian prices also decreased compared to the previous week.

Last week, charter rates remained almost flat.

“Freight rates in the Atlantic and Pacific basins dropped slightly this week, with the Spark30S Atlantic spot rate decreasing by $750 per day to $43,250 per day, and the Spark25S Pacific rate falling by $500 per day to $45,750 per day,” Qasim Afghan, Spark’s commercial analyst told LNG Prime on Friday.

“This marks the 8th consecutive week-on-week decrease in Spark25 Pacific rates, and the lowest rates in both basins for this time of year since 2020,” he said.

Image: Spark

Platts, a part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, said in a report on Friday that global LNG freight rates have remained steady throughout this year, despite the number of LNG vessels available in both the Pacific and Atlantic spot markets fluctuating in 2024.

According to Platts, at the start of the year the number of available spot vessels in the Atlantic basin stood at five ships, before dipping to around three to four in March.

In April, the number of available vessels soared to the highest recorded — between 2022 to 2024 — of around 13 to 14 vessels, it said.

In the past week, the number of available vessels has declined to around 12 to 13, Platts said.

Similarly, the Pacific has also seen swings in vessel availability, starting January at around 10 to 11 vessels before reaching a peak of around 14 in March and then rising further to around 16 in April, before falling back in the past week to around 12 to 13 ships, it said.

However, despite these fluctuations in availability, combined with ongoing shipping constraints via the Panama and Suez canals, the market has found a new equilibrium and shipping rates remaining steady throughout 2024, Platts said.

European prices down

In Europe, the SparkNWE DES LNG front month dropped compared to the last week.

“The SparkNWE DES LNG front month price for May delivery is assessed at $9.157/MMBtu and at a $0.190/MMBtu discount to the TTF,” Afghan said.

He said this is a $0.703/MMBtu decrease in DES LNG price, and a $0.040/MMBtu narrowing of the discount to the TTF.

Image: Spark

Levels of gas in storages in Europe are very high following a mild winter and the EU-27 ended the winter with record-high stocks in gas storages.

Data by Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) shows that volumes in gas storages in the EU dropped from last week and they were 61.74 percent full on April 24.

Gas storages were 62.06 percent full on April 17, and 58.29 percent full on April 24 last year.

JKM

In Asia, JKM, the price for LNG cargoes delivered to Northeast Asia, dropped when compared to the last week, according to Platts data.

JKM for June settled at $10.430/MMBtu on Thursday.

State-run Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security (JOGMEC) said in a report that JKM “decreased to low-$10s on April 25 from high-$10s the previous weekend.”

“Low demand due to easing geopolitical tensions and ample inventories continued to push price down for a fourth straight day,” JOGMEC said.

METI announced on April 24 that Japan’s LNG inventories for power generation as of April 21 stood at 2.05 million tonnes, up 0.43 tonnes from the previous week.

Freeport LNG, Hammerfest LNG

US LNG exports rose in the week ending April 24, with the Freeport LNG terminal shipping only one cargo during the period, according to the EIA.

Freeport LNG said last month it will operate with only the third train until “sometime in May” when it expects to bring back online the first and the second train.

According to reports, the third LNG train tripped offline on April 9 and this Tuesday as well.

LNG Prime previously invited Freeport LNG to provide an update on the status of the third train, but the LNG terminal operator declined to comment.

Besides issues at Freeport LNG, Norway’s Equinor delayed the restart of its 4.3 mtpa Hammerfest LNG export plant following a gas leak.

Equinor said on Tuesday that the leak was detected just before 10.00am local time while personnel were moved from the area and nobody was injured.

The company then confirmed on Wednesday that it expects to restart the Hammerfest LNG export plant on Friday.

However, Gassco data showed on Friday that Hammerfest LNG will be offline until 1200 local time on March 27.

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