By Jessica Jaganathan
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) snapped three straight weeks of gains this week as more spot cargoes filled the market while levels in storage tanks in the main demand region of North Asia remained relatively high.
Spot prices for June delivery to Northeast Asia slipped to $5.30 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) this week, down 10 cents from the previous week, several industry sources said.
The price gap between LNG traded in the spot market and term cargoes linked to benchmark Brent crude oil has stretched to its widest in about 8 years, driving some buyers locked in to term deals to try to delay shipments or look to adjust contracts.
"As the oil price is getting high and spot becoming low, it is economical for buyer to purchase spot rather than (through) term contracts," a Japan-based industry source said.
Some buyers are looking to utilise so-called downward quantity tolerances (DQT) in their term contracts from LNG sellers, three industry sources said.
DQTs are standard provisions allowing buyers to purchase less LNG than their full annual contract quantity, without incurring penalties.
Still, the market was well supplied with several sell tenders offered this week.
Indonesia's Pertamina offered a cargo for June delivery on a free-on-board basis, while Royal Dutch Shell offered a cargo from Trinidad and Tobago for late May, two industry sources said. Both tenders close on April 29.
Russia's Sakhalin Energy offered two cargoes for June loading in a tender that closed on Thursday but was valid until Friday, according to one of those sources and a third industry source.
Also this week, Gail India offered 10 cargoes for loading in the United States between June 2019 and March 2020 on a free-on-board basis.
Australia's Ichthys LNG plant also sold a mid-May loading cargo at above $5.50 per mmBtu, trade sources said, though this could not immediately be confirmed. Production from the plant has been ramping up in recent months, two of the sources said.
Indonesia's Donggi-Senoro project may have sold a mid-May loading cargo at about $5.50 per mmBtu to a portfolio player, traders said.
On the buy side, Japan's Toho Gas may have paid about $5.70 per mmBtu for a July cargo, while Nippon Steel may have awarded its June buy tender at below $5.50 per mmBtu, those sources added.
Osaka Gas may have also purchased a spot cargo, though price details were not immediately clear.
Companies do not typically comment on such commercial transactions.
Mexican utility CFE is seeking 17 cargoes for delivery between the beginning of May and mid-December this year, while Argentine energy company Integracion Energetica Argentina (IEASA) is seeking seven cargoes for August, sources said.
(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Joseph Radford)