(Bloomberg) -- Chinese liquefied natural gas importers are hunting for cheap shipments from the spot market after prices fell to the lowest level since 2021.

LNG buyers, including Shenzhen Energy Group and China Gas Holdings Ltd., are in talks with potential suppliers for additional cargoes for the next several months, according to traders with knowledge of the matter. China Resources Gas Group purchased a shipment for mid-March delivery, the traders said.

The interest in additional supplies from China — the world’s biggest LNG importer — is emerging after a drop in spot prices made the fuel more cost competitive with local gas options and oil products, the traders said.

Still, Chinese LNG spot demand remains subdued, especially when compared to a flurry of buying last month ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, traders added. Asian LNG prices are expected to continue sliding as ample supply outstrips the spot purchases, especially as the peak winter demand season ends.

Chinese LNG imports are recovering from a slump in 2022, when virus restrictions and high prices dashed demand for the super-chilled fuel. January imports jumped nearly 30% year-over-year, but were still about 8% lower than the same month in 2021, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, China’s domestic trucked LNG prices are down about 16% so far this year, indicating weak domestic gas consumption.

Other market news:

  • Eesti Gaas is seeking to purchase three LNG cargoes on a DES basis for April-June delivery into Finland’s Inkoo import terminal
  • Oman LNG offers to sell a cargo on an FOB basis for March 30-April 1 loading
  • Inpex’s Ichthys LNG export facility in Australia sold a cargo for March 12-14 loading to a portfolio player


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(Updates with additional details from the spot market after sixth paragraph.)

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