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Chinese April LNG imports reach 1.5 mil mt, significant cuts to Qatar volumes

Singapore — Chinese LNG imports gained 12% year on year to reach 1.5 million mt in April, General Administration of Customs data released late Tuesday showed.

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This was the largest recorded increase in volumes since November 2014, according to Platts historical data, with imports in April also up 15% from March, when they had totaled 1.3 million mt.

The increased imported LNG volumes in April were also followed by significant increases in pipeline natural gas imports.

China imported 2.14 million mt of natural gas via pipelines in April, the customs data showed, an increase of 18% from a year earlier.


Delivered LNG prices averaged $8.15/MMBtu over the month, according to Platts calculations, 25% lower than levels seen a year previous, as recent falls in the crude oil markets were now being passed on to LNG consumers.

Imported volumes from Malaysia had seen a stark increase, gaining close to 200% year on year, as prices from the country dipped by almost 12% to average $7.30/MMBtu, according to Platts calculations.

The bulk of deliveries from Malaysia's Petronas appeared to have been received in the CNOOC-operated Shanghai terminal, likely under long-term contracts, with prices around $7.20/MMBtu.

However, private importer Jovo also appeared to have taken delivery of a Malaysian origination partial cargo at its Huangpu terminal, Guangdong, in the south of China, a price of around $10.70/MMBtu, in house calculations revealed.

The volumes had been delivered into the terminal aboard the Aman Hakata on April 28, with the vessel now running a regular route between Bintulu and Huangpu, Platts ship tracking data cFlow showed.

Appetite for Indonesian volumes was also stronger in April, despite a 100% rise in prices from the same month in 2014; average values from the country delivered into China were now around $9.30/MMBtu.

The bulk of these cargoes appeared to be flowing into the CNOOC-operated Fujian terminal, where prices were around $9.60/MMBtu.

One cargo was also delivered into PetroChina's Dalian terminal in the north of China, arriving aboard the Celestine River, cFlow data showed.

This vessel was reportedly operated by UK-portfolio seller BP, which was heard to have sold the cargo to private buyer Dalian Yintai in the high-$7s/MMBtu in early February, as previously reported by Platts.

The calculated price for this delivery was $7.88/MMBtu. These molecules were then partially reloaded aboard the Norgas Innovation, as the buyer had found it difficult to market these volumes via truck to downstream end users in Liaoning province.

The Norgas Innovation had then delivered into Hainan in early May.

The Platts JKM for late April delivery had been assessed around $7.70/MMBtu towards the end of the trading month.

QATARI VOLUMES SEE FURTHER CUTS

Facilitating these increased inflows into China from Asian importers were cuts to Qatari volumes, which were down 77% year on year to just 92,000 mt; levels not seen since 2011, Platts records show.

Qatar remained the most expensive importing source, with prices above $13.00/MMBtu.

The bulk of these deliveries were received into CNOOC's Guangdong terminal.

A Yemeni cargo was also delivered into CNOOC's Guangdong terminal aboard the Arwa Spirit April 14, according to cFlow.

A Norway origination cargo delivered was delivered into CNOOC's Haikou terminal, Hainan, South China.

The volumes arrived aboard the BW GDF Suez Brussels April 6 for a calculated price of $8.66/MMBtu under a mid-term contract between CNOOC and GDF Suez.

Higher than average prices from Australia -- normally around $3-4/MMBtu -- suggested that spot cargoes could have also been purchased from the country.

The bulk appeared to have been received at Guangdong, while two cargoes --the Methane Becki Anne and the Clean Force -- delivered into CNOOC's Ningbo terminal, likely under BG's term deal with CNOOC for QCLNG volumes.

A further Australian cargo was delivered into PetroChina's Rudong aboard the British Ruby.

The calculated price for this cargo was $12.66/MMBtu.

Elsewhere, the Sinopec-operated Qingdao terminal took delivery of a Papua New Guinea cargo at $11.83/MMBtu aboard the Papua, which entered the port April 29, according to Platts ship tracking database cFlow.

These volumes were likely received under existing term contracts.

Neither the CNOOC operated Tianjin or PetroChina's Tangshan in the north of the country had received any cargoes over April, according to the customs data.

CNOOC's Zhuhai terminal also received no volumes.

--Stephanie Wilson, stephanie.wilson@platts.com
--Edited by James Leech, james.leech@platts.com