Commodity trader Gunvor offered the lowest prices to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Pakistan for the majority of the cargoes the importer sought between October and December, despite attracting interest from Asian companies.
Gunvor submitted the lowest offers for six cargo delivery slots with DXT Commodities, Vitol, a unit of PetroChina and Socar Trading submitting the lowest bids for the remaining four delivery slots, a Pakistan LNG document showed on Friday.
Nine companies in all qualified in the tender to supply four cargoes in October, two in November and four in December. They included Japan's JERA Global Markets, part of the world's biggest LNG buyer JERA, and a unit of China's top oil and gas company PetroChina Co Ltd.
Despite being big buyers of LNG, Asian firms such as JERA and PetroChina have sought to expand their portfolio trading to optimise costs and as demand in Japan and China remained lacklustre this year.
But seasoned LNG trader Gunvor, which submitted the lowest offers in all the previous tenders but one this year, came out top again. Pakistan LNG does not announce awards of its tenders, only the lowest bidders.
Pakistan's LNG tenders are eagerly watched by traders because it reveals the prices offered, shedding light on an often opaque market. The prices are expressed as a percentage of Brent crude price.
The prices in this tender ranged from 8.3 per cent of Brent crude oil prices for a late October cargo, submitted by Vitol, to 10.9 per cent of Brent for a late December cargo, submitted by Gunvor.
At today's oil prices of about $60 a barrel, that equates to $4.98 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) for the cheapest October cargo and $6.54 per mmBtu for the most expensive December cargo.
Asian spot LNG prices were heard at $4.30 to $4.50 per mmBtu for October and at $5.20 to $5.50 for November.
This was the first attempt by JERA to supply Pakistan in a spot buy tender, two industry sources said, and the third time this year PetroChina has technically qualified in Pakistan LNG's tender process, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.
PetroChina is one of the four companies vying to supply 240 cargoes of LNG to Pakistan through a 10-year term tender, which is yet to be awarded.
The company had also offered to sell into a spot tender by Pakistan LNG in June for five cargoes for delivery over July to September, but did not win that contract.
Prior to PetroChina's offer, the last time a Chinese company had qualified to sell LNG to Pakistan through a tender was in early 2017 when China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) offered to sell into a five-year term tender.
JERA declined to comment, while PetroChina did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.