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Market Movers Asia Feb 8-12: Myanmar energy investments in the spotlight amid coup

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Watch: Market Movers Asia Feb 8-12: Myanmar energy investments in the spotlight amid coup

The highlights on S&P Global Platts Market Movers in Asia, with Senior Oil News Editor Surabhi Sahu:

*Myanmar coup threatens energy investments
*US LPG flows to Asia to fall as arbitrage narrows
*US LNG cargoes diverted to Europe with arb closed
*Metals markets subdued ahead of Lunar New Year holidays
*Spotlight on China's corn imports ahead of WASDE report

View Full Transcript

This week: Narrowing arbitrage impact Asia-bound LNG and LPG cargoes, eyes on global corn balance sheets as China's demand grows, Lunar New Year holidays to keep some market activities subdued.

But first, Myanmar takes center stage in the regional energy markets as the military coup threatens to disrupt investment in the country's oil, gas and power sectors. While there is no immediate stoppage of current oil and gas production, Japanese and Australian energy companies are concerned about reputational risks and ESG compliance issues, if the military government comes under a wave of international sanctions.

Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia, and a curtailment of energy investments would slow down its electrification. It would also jeopardize upstream projects that supply natural gas to Thailand and China. But some analysts say that sanctions from the West could pave the way for more Thai and Chinese investments in Myanmar's energy sector, as they have been investing in the country even before it opened up.

Zooming in to oil, up to 11 LPG cargoes loading this month from the US to Asia have been canceled as the arbitrage narrowed. This is due to a two-week retreat in Asian prices and disruptions caused by closures of the Houston Shipping Channel since January 20.

The cancellations will reduce US cargo arrivals to Asia to 1.6 million mt in March from 2.3 million mt this month. Market impact, however, is seen to be limited as heating demand has fallen from January's peak.

Still on the theme of US-Asia arbitrage, at least 4 US LNG vessels were spotted diverting to Europe from delivering to North Asia, according to cflow, Platts' vessel tracking tool.

This was observed as the premium of Platts JKM, the benchmark for LNG spot prices in Asia, over the TTF has shrunk, as you can see on this graph.

The ample supply in the market means that JKM prices could be capped as procurement moves into the spring season. The next trigger for demand will likely be restocking of gas inventories although there is enough supply in the system.

Do you think the shipping and LNG market will test the record lows seen in 2020? Share your thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag PlattsMM.

Meanwhile, Chinese gas demand could remain limited in the run-up to the Lunar New Year holidays later this week. Economic activity tends to slow down during the holiday season and this time COVID-19 related restrictions will further suppress energy demand.

Manufacturing has also started to slow down ahead of the holidays, dampening activities in the metals markets. New waves of coronavirus infections are threatening to derail economic recovery efforts, creating uncertainties as to the direction of the metals sector after the holidays.

Finally, in agriculture, markets will keep a close eye on the US WASDE report, due Feb. 9, with the spotlight on China's corn imports. Markets will be also watching the overall corn balance sheet with global stocks already at multi-year lows. Chinese purchases continue to further tighten the supply pipeline.

Outside of China, Asian demand has been muted due to high prices. Last week, South Korean feed buyers emerged for the first time this year to book cargoes as Argentinian corn became more competitive than that from the US. Will other countries follow suit? It remains to be seen.

For more on all the issues affecting commodity markets from wherever you are, make sure to check out Platts LIVE at the address displayed on your screen. Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us. Have a great week ahead!