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London — Europe's take of US LNG has slumped so far this year to less than 3% of total volume, prompting further talks between the EU and the US later this month to reduce regulation in order to boost US LNG deliveries into Europe and increase the price competitiveness of the region.

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Europe has received just 474 million cu m or 2.7% of US LNG exports so far this year after a cargo from Sabine Pass arrived in Malta on Tuesday to become only the fifth delivery since January 1, data from S&P Global Platts Analytics showed.

Last year, Europe received a total of 2.106 Bcm of US LNG, accounting for 11.3% of the market in the process, after having taken 6.5% of US LNG produced in 2016.

The fall in European offtake has come as Asian demand for US LNG has risen sharply on an annual basis, with 8.726 Bcm having been delivered so far this year compared to the 2017 total of 6.941 Bcm, with the Asian share of the US LNG market climbing to 48.8% so far in 2018 from 37.3% in 2017 as a result.

South America's share of the US LNG market remained broadly stable, at 32.3% so far this year compared to 31.6% last year, with Middle East offtake dropping to 8.8% so far in 2018 from 15.3% in 2017, and other global markets accounting for 7.5% year-to-date compared to 4.5% in 2017.

Asia's take of US LNG has followed firm pricing in the region due to a cold winter and a hot summer, boosting gas-for-power demand in the region for both heating and cooling, which saw the JKM prompt -- the benchmark for spot LNG delivered into Northeast Asia -- at a large premium to the European hubs, incentivizing customers with offtake from Sabine Pass and Cove Point to send their volumes to Asia rather than Europe.

The JKM prompt has averaged $9.284/MMBtu so far during this year in comparison to the $7.129/MMBtu average in 2017, S&P Global Platts price data showed.

The JKM prompt has averaged an Eur2.186/MMBtu premium to the Dutch TTF equivalent so far this year against the $1.420/MMBtu premium in 2017.

The European Union said Thursday it had been agreed that on August 20, the Trade Advisor of EU President Jean-Claude Juncker and a senior EU trade official will travel to Washington DC to meet with their US counterparts "to increase US exports of LNG to Europe."

The EU sees US LNG as a tool to "diversify and render its energy supply more secure," however, current US legislation still requires prior regulatory approval for LNG to come to Europe.

"These restrictions need to be addressed and US rules made easier for US LNG to be exported to the EU," the statement said.

--Gary Hornby,

--Edited by Jeremy Lovell,