By Jonathan N. Crawford
(Bloomberg) — A liquefied natural gas tanker plying the waters of the Mediterranean has created a guessing game for energy traders.
The Maran Gas Delphi has taken a meandering course after loading up on U.S. shale gas a month ago at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass export terminal in Louisiana. The ship anchored off the coast of Greece for several days, prompting speculation that it would deliver its supplies to a port in the region. Instead, the tanker is now bound for the Red Sea, raising the prospect that it may instead travel to Southeast Asia.
The winding track of the Maran Gas Delphi is a testament to how a gas glut fed by surging production from countries including U.S. and Australia is complicating global trade of the fuel. The rise of so-called homeless LNG, or supplies not already committed to customers, is confounding efforts by traders and analysts to get a grasp of the market and make bets.
“It’s bit of a mystery,” Jason Feer, head of business intelligence at ship broker Poten & Partners in Houston, said of the Maran Gas Delphi. “Normally LNG logistics are pretty well-rehearsed, and having an LNG carrier cooling its heels is expensive.”
Cargoes of LNG not committed to customers will peak at 80 million tons by 2020, up from 50 million now, Feer said. This comes as buyers demand more flexible terms and long-term contracts expire amid the global market oversupply, he said.
“There’s going to be a larger number of pieces going forward and people are going to have to make sense of that,” Feer said by phone.
Anangel Shipping Enterprises, owner of the vessel, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which chartered the ship, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Cheniere wasn’t immediately able to provide comment. The contract terms of the cargo were unclear.
“Everybody is working to track the vessels,” Feer said. “From a trader’s point of view, understanding who’s long, who’s short and where volume is moving is obviously really critical.”
–With assistance from Anna Shiryaevskaya.
© 2016 Bloomberg L.P