MILAN, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices edged up last week on fresh demand from Argentina as supply remained tight and traders covered short positions, but falling crude oil prices may mark a turning point in a months-long gas rally.
Prices for September delivery rose to around $6.15 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) last week, up five cents on the week ended July 22.
Argentina’s state-run energy buyer Enarsa launched a tender to buy nine LNG cargoes for delivery between September and October, surprising traders by the scale of its demand, having just procured six cargoes mainly from trading companies.
A fire at Malaysian LNG production complex Bintulu over the weekend did not affect output, state-run Petronas said in a statement.
However, global output during September is constrained by planned outages at the Chevron-led Angola LNG project and Cheniere Energy’s first production line at Sabine Pass - both of which will be offline for repairs and testing.
Angola LNG entered its longer-than-expected maintenance period several weeks ago. Sabine Pass maintenance will happen in September only.
Tempering any drop in supply was the resumption of exports from the Chevron-operated Gorgon facility in Australia on Monday - only its third-ever shipment following a series of shutdowns.
The cargo is being shipped aboard the Beidou Star tanker.
Last week Exxon Mobil, which is a partner in Gorgon, issued a tender to sell a cargo from the project, sources said.
Bids were due on Monday. Although the Beidou Star is listed as heading for Singapore, that destination may be adjusted once the tender is awarded.
Before this latest shipment, Gorgon had only exported two cargoes since starting operations in March as unexpected technical problems forced the project to shutdown.
Furthermore, the second production line at Cheniere’s Sabine Pass plant is gearing up for production, offsetting planned maintenance on the first line in Sept. and helping maintain supply.
“Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG Train 2 started up last week,” Barclays said in a research note on Monday.
Falling Brent crude oil prices in recent weeks, down 22 percent since early June, are injecting bearish sentiment into LNG markets.
One analyst said the dip in Brent prices could help erode a months-long upward run in spot LNG prices, although he noted that supply is still tight while trading companies remain active in covering short positions.
Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic; Editing by William Hardy