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Spain takes another US LNG cargo, third so far in 2017

London — * Methane Spirit arrived at Sagunto at the weekend
* Fourth US LNG cargo to region in four weeks
* Despite plunging Spanish month-ahead gas price

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Another cargo of US LNG arrived at the weekend in Spain, according to cFlow, Platts trade flow software, the third delivery from the Sabine Pass terminal to Spain since the start of 2017.

The cargo was delivered by the Methane Spirit into the eastern Spanish terminal of Sagunto and comes despite a plunge in Spanish gas prices since the start of February.

Deliveries of flexible US LNG into the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe have picked up since the start of 2017 as prices in the region surged on unusually cold weather and a month-long unplanned outage at the Skikda LNG export facility in Algeria.

The latest delivery to Spain is the fourth to Iberia since mid-January following two previous cargoes to Spain and one to Sines in Portugal so far in 2017.

Spain took its first US LNG cargo in the summer of 2016, but no others landed on Spanish shores until January 2017 as prices in Europe did not attract US LNG imports.

But Spanish PVB gas prices soared from the end of December into late January due to rising demand amid the unexpected cold snap.

Platts assessed the Spanish PVB month-ahead price at as high as Eur33/MWh -- more than $10/MMBtu -- in mid-January, a significant premium to the traditionally higher Platts Asian spot LNG JKM assessment.

The high prices created an incentive for US LNG to come to Spain and Portugal, proving the price responsiveness of US LNG.

Since the start of February, however, the Spanish PVB month-ahead price has slumped, assessed by Platts at Eur21.95/MWh ($6.85/MMBtu) on Friday.

Imports of US LNG and LNG from elsewhere had helped soften prices, traders said.

"I think the main reason [for the drop in prices] is the LNG," one trader said Friday, adding that forecasts of a further cold spell in March had been revised.

Other than the now four cargoes to Spain and two to Portugal, only one other US LNG shipment has been delivered to Europe -- to Italy in late 2016.

There have still been no US LNG cargoes sent to the more liquid markets in Northwest Europe.

--Stuart Elliott,
--Edited by Jonathan Fox,