South Korea’s LNG Imports Climb 19% in March From Year Ago

South Korea, the world’s second-largest buyer of liquefied natural gas, increased imports of the fuel by 19 percent in March.

Shipments climbed to 4.17 million metric tons from 3.49 million a year earlier, according to data on the Korea Customs Service’s website. The monthly volume rose from 4.09 million tons in February.

The total cost of the March purchases increased to $3.3 billion from $2.46 billion in the same month a year earlier, the data showed today. The average price paid rose to $789.68 a ton from $705.69 a year ago, according to the figures.

South Korea buys most of its LNG under multi-year contracts from suppliers including Qatar, Indonesia and Oman. Last month’s purchases included a spot shipment of 100,797 tons from Trinidad & Tobago at $675 a ton, the data show.

State-run Korea Gas Corp., the world’s biggest LNG buyer, said April 11 that its March domestic sales of gas fell 3.5 percent to 3.55 million tons from a year earlier. Demand from electricity producers slipped 4.4 percent, while that from local city gas providers dropped 2.8 percent.

South Korea purchased thee LNG spot cargoes from Peru and Algeria in March, according to contract and ship-tracking data.

Peruvian Exports

The country bought two shipments totaling 148,547 tons from Peru LNG’s terminal at Pampa Melchorita at an average price of $18.48 per million British thermal units. A 79,890 ton shipment was delivered March 7 by the Castillo de Santisteban to Korea Gas’ Tongyeong LNG terminal, according to ship transmissions captured by IHS Fairplay on Bloomberg.

Algeria exported a 61,902 metric ton LNG spot cargo to South Korea for $16.01 per million Btu in March.

Korea Gas, known as Kogas, had a one-year contract with Peru LNG for 900,000 tons of LNG that began in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company has no long-term supply contracts with Algeria.

Nigeria exported a 55,337 ton cargo to South Korea, compared with 341,663 metric tons in February after Royal Dutch Shell Plc declared a force majeure on gas supplies to Nigeria LNG Feb. 5.

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

Force Majeure

“There is no timescale for lifting the force majeure,” Jonathan French, a London-based spokesman for Shell said in an e-mail March 27.

South Korean imports of Qatari LNG increased in March to 1.82 million tons from 1.49 million tons last month.

The most expensive LNG purchased by South Korea came from Brunei, which got $19.61 million Btu for a 53,805 ton shipment.

Two cargoes totaling 127,264 metric tons from Russia at $3.73 per million Btu were South Korea’s cheapest LNG imports in March. A standard LNG cargo is about 60,000 tons.

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