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T&T’s LNG export to US drops

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine says 81 per cent of local LNG exports have gone to markets other than the United Sates of America. A release said: “In 2005, approximately 89 per cent of our LNG exports went to the USA and the Henry Hub price at that time averaged US$8.64 per MMBtu. This situation has, however, been dramatically reversed and in 2011, only 19 per cent of our LNG exports went to the USA. The Henry Hub price averaged US$3.99 per MMBtu in 2011. It added: “ As of last week, Henry Hub prices have reached a low of US$2.70 per MMBtu as a result of a milder winter and high shale gas production. This, however, has minimal impact on T&T revenue from natural gas as 81 per cent of  LNG exports now go to markets in South America, Europe and Asia.”


The advent of shale gas production in the USA coupled with the economic slowdown in that country has seen the Henry Hub price collapse to below $3 per million British thermal unit (MMbtu) in January 2012. Henry Hub has traditionally been the main marker for pricing Trinidad and Tobago’s LNG as the USA has been the destination of choice since the start of LNG production in this country in 1999. Among the markets identified were the Asian market. There, the gas prices are linked to crude oil prices and the Japanese Crude Cocktail (JCC) is a price marker for both contract and spot prices. In addition, as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March of 2011, T&T has seen a steady increase in cargoes from Trinidad and Tobago going to the Asian market.


It said: “For 2011, approximately 21 per cent  of LNG exports went to the Asian market, where prices averaged approximately US$13.50 per MMBtu. Currently prices in Japan are around US$16.50 per MMBtu, while in South Korea the spot prices are around US$13.50 per MMBtu and in China  around US$10.45 per MMBtu.


European gas prices
In the United Kingdom and Europe, the main marker is the National Balancing Point (NBP) which is not oil-linked but, because of the high gas demand in UK and Europe, is much higher than Henry Hub prices. There are other LNG price markers in Europe, for example, Zeebrugge in Belgium, in which gas prices are linked to both fuel oil and gas oil. Currently, European prices (NBP and Zebrugge) are in the region of US$8 per MMBtu to US$10 per MMBtu. In mid-January, the spot NBP price was US$8.45 per MMBtu while at Zebrugge it was US$9.51 per MMBtu. South America is another market where the prices are mainly linked to crude oil prices per MMBtu, thereby fetching a higher price. In South America, the spot LNG prices were between US$11 and US$14 per MMBtu in Argentina and Chile.


At a glance
• In 2011, approximately 60 per cent of T&T LNG exports were diverted to premium priced markets in Asia, Europe and South America. The remainder went to base markets mainly in the USA and Spain.
• The average wellhead gas price T&T has received for the sale of LNG was approximately US$3 per MMBtu in the last quarter of 2011. This is the price at the wellhead after application of the different netback formulae.
• Approximately 60 per cent of natural gas produced locally is exported while 40 per cent is consumed locally at Point Lisas or by power generation companies. The weighted average wellhead price of gas in the last quarter of 2011 (October-December) was approximately US$3.10 per MMBtu.
• The figure was well above the price assumption used by the Minister of Finance Winston Dookeran in the 2011/12 national budget of $2.75 per mmbtu.


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