In Asia, LNG prices are declining
In Asia, LNG imports decreased in February, as they did last year at the same period. China, Japan and South Korea imported 12.5 million tons compared to 14.7 million tons in January 2015. February year-on-year demand in these countries fell by 5.1% overall: the drop was pulled by a 25.6% decline in South Korean imports while Chinese’s grew by 10.9% and Japanese’s by 2.9%. As a consequence of the easing on Asian markets and the fall in oil prices, import prices continued to dwindle: they reached $13.3/mmbtu in Japan (including trades below $10/mmbtu), $10.4/mmbtu in China and $13.5 in South Korea. February prices represented a 20% year-on-year drop in Japan and South Korea and a fall of 11% in China.
In 2014, the purchase of Repsol’s LNG assets in Peru and Trinidad and Tobago brought Shell an additional 4.3 mmtpa in liquefaction capacity and strengthened its global leadership in the LNG upstream sector. With the $70 billion takeover of BG, the Anglo-Dutch major is about to become the unquestionable leader, thanks to the world’s largest and most diverse portfolio. BG’s contracts will provide the company with an unprecedented coverage of global markets, but Shell has to keep developing LNG projects, as the medium- and long-term production of BG’s assets is uncertain.
After a period of extensive growth in the 2000s, the Russian gas industry is now facing numerous challenges. Mounting competition by independent producers and the development of new production by Gazprom, combined with stagnating domestic demand and weakening export markets, have created a situation of overproduction, made worse by western sanctions and low oil and gas prices. Expansion to the East thanks to the recent China deal is not expected to provide much relief before 2024. The coming decade will be critical for the industry and its outcome will largely depend on the government’s pricing and institutional policies but the role of the state should remain essential.
The New CEDIGAZ report “Russian Gas Market: Entering New Era” by Tatiana Mitrova (Russian Academy of Sciences) and Gergely Molnar analyses the ongoing changes in the Russian industry and the challenges to be met.