MILAN, March 17 (Reuters) - Asian spot LNG prices fell again this week with Angola releasing more supply even as more Australian and U.S. production gears up at a time of already saturated markets.
Spot prices for May delivery slipped to around $5.65 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), 10 cents below last week's levels. Sources said April prices continued to slide from last week's $5.85 per mmBtu level, even straying into the $5.50 per mmBtu range.
Output from the third production line at Australia's giant Gorgon plant is due to start this month, project operator Chevron said. Cheniere Energy's third production line looks set for "substantial completion" by the end of this month, it said, with the first test cargo having already been shipped.
However, an industry source reported that production problems had resurfaced at Gorgon this week, although the issue has not yet translated into any obvious disruption to loadings. Chevron was not immediately available to comment.
It is possible Chevron may seek replacement supply in the spot market. Mexico's state-run CFE released a tender to bring in cargoes in late March and early April. A tender by Thailand's PTT, which closed this week, sought a cargo for delivery between April 27-May 3.
Thomson Reuters' 45-day weather forecast for Tokyo - Japan is a top LNG importer - indicates milder-than-average temperatures across nearly the whole period. However, Seoul and Beijing will be slightly below the average.
Two cargoes put up for tender by Angola LNG show the extent to which the project has hit its stride after various setbacks last year. This week it offered a March 16-18 loading cargo for delivery in April, in addition to a free-on-board (FOB) cargo for late April-early May, trade sources said.
Under FOB terms, a buyer must bring their own vessel to pick up the cargo.
"The FOB tender is only for those that will accept (Angola LNG's) force majeure clause which basically means there is no guarantee that a cargo will be produced," a trader said.
Last week's purchase by Argentina of 20 LNG cargoes reflected a price with the slimmest premium to benchmark UK gas levels since 2009, one trader had said. Other sources pointed to the fact that state-run Enarsa choose from a mix of price indices.
For example, Shell, which walked away with the bulk of deliveries, submitted its bids based on Brent crude oil prices, a trader said.
Italy's OLT LNG import terminal moored off the Tuscan coast on Friday downsized by three the number of import slots available to participants in its recent supply tender.
"It just issued an updated schedule showing only two April and one May slots, from the respective three and four initially assigned," a European trader said.
"So four out of 7 slots have been released," he said. (Additional reporting by Mark Tay in Singapore; editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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