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LNG Shipping Rates Fall to Almost Two-Year Low on Price Gap

May 16 (Bloomberg) -- Rates to ship liquefied natural gas fell to the lowest in almost two years as the opportunity to profit from shifting cargoes to Asia closed, curbing trading distances, according to Fearnley Securities AS.

Daily earnings for modern turbine vessels slid 6.3 percent this week to $89,000, the lowest since June 2011, according to data from Fearnley LNG, a shipbroker in Oslo. Rates retreated 41 percent since a high of $150,000 in June, figures show.

More vessels are available even amid increased bookings as cargoes travel shorter distances now that traders can’t profit from moving them to Asia, Rikard Vabo, an Oslo-based analyst at Fearnley’s investment-banking unit, said in an e-mailed report today. Latin American buyers outbidding those in Asia leads to shorter distances, effectively reducing shipping demand, according to Erik Nikolai Stavseth, an analyst at Arctic Securities ASA.

“The spot market continues to be under pressure, despite a reasonably steady flow of fixtures,” Vabo said in the report. “With the west-east arbitrage not being in the money at the moment, most spot deals seem to be intra-basin and for short periods, thus meaning there continues to be a steady amount of vessels being made available in the spot market.”

Spot cargoes of LNG for delivery in the next four to eight weeks cost $14.30 per million British thermal units in northeast Asia, $2.75 more than in southwest Europe, according to World Gas Intelligence, a research company. That compares with a $4.90 gap in February, when Asian prices rose to a record, data show.

Rates won’t recover before July, when imports will rise to Japan, South Korea and China for the summer, DNB Markets analysts led by Nicolay Dyvik said in an e-mailed report today. A three- to five-year charter currently accepting bids may cost less than previously expected, according to the report. Awilco LNG AS and Golar LNG Ltd. have vessels becoming available and ordered ships without securing charters, DNB said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in London at iarnsdorf@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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