European LNG prices have fallen to an 18-month low with returning Freeport volumes adding further bearish sentiment to the market.
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Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed Northwest European delivered LNG at $14.823/MMBtu on Feb. 13, the lowest since Aug. 23, 2021, when the assessment was made at $14.709/MMBtu.
Freeport LNG exported its first cargo Feb. 12 since an explosion and fire shut the US facility last June, meaning an already well supplied European market may soon see additional US cargoes, likely to put pressure on prices.
Freeport can export 16-19 LNG cargoes per month when operating normally, according to market sources.
Europe has also been experiencing increased supply from North Africa recently, specifically Egypt.
The Egyptian Gas Holding Company (Egas) has issued sell tenders for nine LNG cargoes in 2023 after 54 cargoes in 2022, up from around 26 in 2021, S&P Global data showed.
European prices had already been under pressure amid a reduction in demand for spot cargoes during early 2023.
Milder than average winter weather and earlier demand destruction from industrial consumers have led to reduced gas consumption.
Eight European countries recorded all-time temperature highs for January, according to data from the BBC. That drove down heating demand and slowed the rate at which gas stocks were drawn.
Meanwhile, high stock levels have also been able to satiate any excess demand above that from contractual LNG cargoes and natural gas pipeline flows. That has caused demand for LNG spot cargoes to dry up.
Europe's gas storage levels remain high, at 66.1% as of Feb. 12, according to the Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory (AGSI). Gas storage levels were at 32.7% this time last year.
While immediate European has been subdued, some sources were expecting some level of price rebound in the near term with the main question being around the scope for a return of Chinese demand.
"Prices are nearing the bottom but there may yet be lower levels in the days to come," a Europe-based LNG trader said.