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South Korea LNG Imports Climb 29% as Domestic Consumption Rises

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May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Liquefied natural gas imports by South Korea, the world’s second-largest buyer of the fuel, rose 29 percent in April as domestic demand increased.

Shipments climbed to 3.51 million metric tons from 2.72 million a year earlier, according to data on the Korea Customs Service’s website today. The monthly volume dropped from 4.16 million tons in March.

The total cost of last month’s purchases increased to $2.61 billion from $2.15 billion in the same month a year earlier, the data showed today. The average price paid declined to $742.62 per ton from $790.73 a year ago.

South Korea buys most of its LNG under multiyear contracts from suppliers including Qatar, Indonesia and Oman. April’s purchases included a spot shipment of 61,189 tons from Equatorial Guinea at $885.29 a ton, the data show.

State-run Korea Gas Corp., the world’s biggest LNG buyer, said May 10 that its April domestic sales of gas increased 10 percent to 3.21 million tons from a year earlier. Demand from electricity producers rose 5.2 percent, while local city gas providers used 16 percent more fuel, it said.

Peruvian Purchases

The country bought a 70,815 ton LNG spot cargo from Peru LNG’s terminal at Pampa Melchorita at a price of $16.17 per million British thermal units, according to ship transmissions captured by IHS Fairplay on Bloomberg. The Sevilla Knutsen, with 173,400 cubic meters of capacity, arrived April 10 at Pyeongtaek, on the western coast of South Korea, the transmissions show.

Korea Gas, known as Kogas, had a one-year contract with Peru LNG for 900,000 metric tons of LNG that began in 2011 and ended last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The most expensive LNG purchased by South Korea came from Oman, which received $18.24 per million Btu for supplying 305,843 metric tons, or five cargoes. A standard LNG shipment is about 60,000 tons. Three cargoes totaling 191,435 tons from Russia at $4.30 per million Btu were South Korea’s cheapest LNG imports in April.

Gas shipments from Nigeria to South Korea picked up after Shell Petroleum Development Co. lifted its force majeure on gas supplies to Nigeria LNG Ltd. on April 17. Nigeria LNG, the West African country’s sole gas exporter, sent four cargoes totaling 254,638 tons to South Korea in April for $15.58 per million Btu, compared with 55,337 tons in March.

Shell issued the halt on supplies Feb. 5 after a suspected release on a line near the Soku gas plant, according to an Feb. 6 e-mail from Julia Dudley, a London-based spokeswoman for Shell Petroleum Development Co. The shutdown reduced gas supply to Nigeria LNG by about 45 percent, Kudo Eresia-Eke, an Abuja-based spokesman for Nigeria LNG, said in an-emailed statement Feb. 13.

Force majeure is a clause companies may use when they miss shipments because of circumstances beyond their control.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sungwoo Park in Seoul at spark47@bloomberg.net; Chou Hui Hong in Singapore at chong43@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

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