Global gas markets may be at the threshold of a new age. An unprecedented gap between regional gas prices has triggered fundamental changes for future global gas market dynamics. This price gap comes at a time when the industry is expanding liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity by one-third, with most of this capacity targeting the Asian market. Not only is the demand for gas growing quickly in Asia, but high prices make this region the preferred destination for LNG sellers.
It would be a mistake, however, to expect such a situation to continue unchanged. Growth will depend on whether countries can afford more expensive gas, its competitiveness against other fuels, and the price level that could trigger an increase in unconventional gas production.
The high prices in Asia have been a result of the close link to oil prices in global LNG markets. This model might see some cracks as a greater quantity of new supplies offer a Henry Hub price with destination flexibility. A regional hub pricing signal in Asia is lacking, but market reforms do show first signs of progress in that direction. That new LNG is being sold on different terms does not mean the end of oil indexation over the medium term, and a mix of oil, Henry Hub and Asian hub indexation could be expected to govern contracts over the longer term.
In sum, new LNG supplies that are redrawing the global gas map, combined with the Asian demand growth and market reforms, challenge Asia to attract LNG in this globalising market.