Quarterly report – Natural gas prices

– In Asia, the average price of gas imports to Japan has risen since year-end 2017 in step with the uptrend in the oil price. LNG spot prices are under pressure and approaching those of oil-indexed contracts.

– These conditions have affected the European market, where price levels for Q2 and Q3 are relatively high.

– In the U.S., the Henry Hub price was lower in Q2 than Q1, due to the magnitude of U.S. natural gas output.

Globally, based on current information, average 2018 prices look to be up sharply in Europe (+36%) and Asia (+30-40%), but down in the United States (-3%).

Figure 1: 2017-19 gas price, by quarter: United Kingdom, Japan and the United States ($/MBtu and €/MWh)

Global trends

European LNG Imports slump in H1 2018

European net LNG imports in H1 2018 did not sustain the growth momentum which was seen in 2017 (nearly 5% Y-o-Y growth in H1 2017) as total LNG net imports fell by 5% (-1.21 MT YoY) to reach 21.2 MT. This trend was mainly the result of higher re-exports, which went up 1.1 MT YoY, and strong declines in net LNG imports in Spain, the UK and France.

In Southern Europe, net LNG imports were down 8.7% to 12.1 MT, as imports in France, Spain and Italy declined. LNG imports in Spain declined by 12 % (-0.65 MT), counterbalanced by pipeline imports from Algeria which grew 18% compared to last year. Spanish LNG imports from Peru were down by 0.88 MT and this was partially offset by increased purchases from Trinidad and Tobago (+0.67 MT). In France, re-exported volumes surged by 0.72MT YoY, resulting in a 10% decline (-0.4 MT) in net LNG imports. The re-exported cargoes from France landed mainly in Asia (China, South Korea, India) and the Middle East (Kuwait). In Italy, LNG imports were down by 10% (-0.28 MT) as the power sector gas demand weakened in H1 2018, while hydroelectric power generation increased. Portugal was the only Southern European country where LNG imports were up, albeit marginally (+ 0.15 MT).

Figure 1: European LNG Importers in H1’18 (net of re-exports)

GLOBAL NATURAL GAS DEMAND GROWS BY 1.4%/YEAR BETWEEN 2016 AND 2040, WITH CHINA LEADING THE GROWTH

CEDIGAZ, the International Association for Natural Gas, has just released its « Medium and Long Term Natural Gas Outlook 2018 ». In CEDIGAZ Reference Scenario, which incorporates national energy plans and INDC commitments, natural gas demand will grow by 1.4%/year between 2016 and 2040 and will play a growing role in the energy mix at the expense of the other fossil fuels. The gradual shift from coal and oil to natural gas and renewables helps reduce the carbon intensity of the energy system as electrification and decarbonisation accelerate over the projection period. The expansion of natural gas markets is supported by both abundant and competitive conventional and unconventional resources, as well as a very rapid growth of spot and flexible LNG trade.