Expect LNG imports to pick up in September

Vol 20, PW 24 (24 Aug 17) Midstream & Downstream

After two months of back-to-back low arrivals, expect an upward swing next month (September) in spot LNG tankers berthing on India's west coast.

Only nine spot cargoes landed in July at Dahej, Hazira and Kochi carrying 1,415,210-cubic metres of LNG. Last year (2016) in July, nine cargoes delivered slightly less, 1,332,150-cubic metres.

June this year (2017) saw a marked drop with eight cargoes discharging just 1,260,142-cubic metres. "June, July and August are always difficult months for the industry," says a Petronet-LNG source.

"But September will be better." August has so far seen six cargoes berth: three at Dahej, two at Hazira and one at Kochi. "Another four are expected by the month-end," says a source.

Reliance brought two and one spot each came from GAIL, IndianOil, Essar and Trafigura which brought in a storage cargo from Angola. Several reasons are cited for the slow-down in gas sales, among them the new anti-gas new Goods and Services Tax (GST) from July 1 which hit gas offtake in major consumption centres Morbi, Thangarh and Surat.

Amid widespread protests, Surat's textile industry closed down for much of July and August severely hitting R-LNG sales from Gujarat Gas. "There is a lot of uncertainty in the market," reports a leading textile mill owner in Surat.

In Morbi, the ceramic manufacturing capital of India, sales slowed to a trickle when price-conscious producers quickly switched to alternative fuels.