Column: Suez blockage boosts Asia LNG price, but it probably shouldn’t

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – The price of spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Asia has moved higher amid the blockage of the Suez Canal, but it’s doubtful it needs to as the delays to shipping to the region will likely only have a marginal impact on supply.

The spot LNG price rose to $6.80 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) in the week ended March 26, up from $6.50 the prior week and the highest in a month.

LNG futures in New York did even better, ending at $6.93 per mmBtu on March 26, up 7.9% from the last price a week earlier.

In some ways it’s not surprising that spot LNG prices have shifted higher, as the unexpected blockage of a major shipping transit point introduces a level of uncertainty and volatility to the market.

Efforts to free the Ever Given container ship, stuck in the canal since last Tuesday, were still successful as of late Sunday Egyptian time.

But an analysis of how LNG usually flows around the globe shows that only small volumes move to Asia through the Suez Canal.

Rather, the main LNG flow through the canal is from major Gulf exporter Qatar to purchasers in Europe, meaning that delays and re-routing of vessels around the longer Cape of Good Hope route will largely impact supplies to Europe.

The United States has in recent years emerged as the third-biggest supplier of LNG to global markets, and has made inroads into the top-consuming region of Asia from export terminals along its east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

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