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By Jessica Jaganathan
SINGAPORE - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) held steady this week, with traders looking for signs of potential demand ahead of winter amid ample supplies.
Spot prices for August delivery to Northeast Asia are estimated to be about $4.40 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), up 10 cents from last week, trade sources said.
Prices for cargoes delivered in September are estimated to be about $4.70 per mmBtu, they added.
The weekly price in Asia rose mainly because of higher European gas hub prices, which jumped this week after an unplanned gas outage in Norway, Europe's second biggest gas supplier, and on higher oil prices, they said.
Gas traders in Europe said fundamentals were nevertheless bearish, with many closely eyeing rising inventories which are far higher than the 5-year average for this time of the year.
Buying interest from Asia remained subdued with stockpiling for winter not expected to start until late September, trade sources said.
In Japan, coal-power stations capable of producing 10,437 megawatts (MW) of electricity will be fired up in the next few weeks, a Reuters survey of the companies shows.
In China, the top buyers of LNG were also largely staying away from the spot market, trade sources said.
Supply on the other hand was ample with Egypt's natural gas company EGAS offering in the spot market, one source said. Details of the offer were not immediately clear.
Brunei LNG sold a cargo for August loading at about $4.50 per mmBtu, two sources said, although this could not immediately be confirmed.
Malaysia's Petronas sold a cargo for August delivery at similar price levels, a third source said. The company's spot cargoes from its floating facility Petronas FLNG (PFLNG) Satu facility have been steady since production started in late May, the source added.
Earlier in the week, Angola LNG offered a cargo from its Soyo plant for delivery in late July to August to as far as Singapore.
Russia's Novatek offered a cargo for loading in July or delivery in August into either Europe or Northeast Asia, sources said. If the cargo is delivered into North Asia, it will be shipped via the Arctic sea route which has just opened for summer, they added.
A Yamal LNG cargo is set to be delivered into Dalian in China on Aug. 17, Refinitiv shipping data showed.
(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan, additional reporting by Sabina Zawadzki in LONDON; editing by Richard Pullin)