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Analysis: LNG supply disruptions fail to lift prices amid weak northeast Asian demand

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Analysis: LNG supply disruptions fail to lift prices amid weak northeast Asian demand

Singapore — Supply disruptions in the Asia Pacific region have failed to lift LNG spot prices, amid lackluster demand in northeast Asia and ample supplies elsewhere in the market.

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Despite production cuts at the Pluto, Wheatstone and Gorgon facilities in Australia, and Bintulu in Malaysia, there were three to five excess cargoes available for March delivery, LNG trading sources said.

The Platts JKM has dipped by 5.46% from the beginning of the month to $6.476/MMBtu Wednesday, the lowest level since September 2017, S&P Global Platts data showed.

However, prices could see some support for deliveries in the first half of March, as two portfolio players or producers are seeking to cover their short positions for late February and early March deliveries, a trader said.

The H1/H2 March backwardation might widen as a result of the short covering since H2 March remains well supplied, the trader added. The JKM H1/H2 March backwardation was assessed at $0.049/MMBtu Wednesday.

Platts JKM hits 17-month low

AUSTRALIA, MALAYSIA PRODUCTION

In Western Australia, Chevron's Wheatstone LNG recorded a 20% drop in monthly average loaded volumes to 18,760 mt in February, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Market participants had voiced concerns over a potential supply disruption at this facility. The company spokesperson declined to comment. However, a 68,000-mt LNG cargo was loaded on the vessel Asia Integrity Wednesday -- the first loading from Wheatstone since February 8 -- Platts vessel tracking tool cFlow showed.

Also, the nearby Gorgon LNG plant has seen sustained lower loadings, after Chevron halted operations at the facility's train 3 due to a mechanical problem in mid-January.

Monthly average loadings from Gorgon LNG dropped by 25% on month in January, and by 24% on month to 25,330 mt in February, Platts Analytics data showed.

There was talk in the market that the train 3 could resume operations by next week, but this could not be confirmed.

Also in Western Australia, Woodside resumed full production at its 4.9 million mt/year Pluto LNG export facility, following a brief outage last week, a company spokesperson told Platts Wednesday.

The facility posted a 58% drop in monthly average loaded volumes in the first 10 days of February, Platts Analytics data showed. Since then, the plant loaded a 68,000-mt cargo aboard the vessel Woodside Rogers on February 12 -- the plant's first loading since February 4 -- cFlow and Platts Analytics data showed.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's Bintulu LNG facility also sparked supply concerns, with the monthly loadings in February dropping by 49% to 42,860 mt, Platts Analytics data showed.

-- Srijan Kanoi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Abache Abreu, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Shashwat Pradhan, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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