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Singapore Plans to Lift LNG Supplier Cap

30 October 2013

Singapore (Channel NewsAsia Online)

SINGAPORE: Singapore is looking to increase its supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports to meet growing electricity demands.

With demand for LNG staying robust, Singapore looks set to lift a moratorium on new piped natural gas imports.

Experts said this move, though still at an early stage, would most likely enhance Singapore's competitiveness in the global LNG arena.

There may soon be more than one sole supplier of LNG to Singapore. British-based BG Group currently has that exclusive franchise.

Singapore's LNG Terminal received its first tranche of LNG on May 7 this year.

According to Neil McGregor, chief executive officer of Singapore LNG, the LNG Terminal currently has a capacity of three million tonnes per annum.

This will be increased to 6 million tonnes per annum by the end of the year, and to 9 million tonnes per annum by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.

Speaking at the Gas Asia Summit on Wednesday, Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said the Energy Market Authority (EMA) will soon call for proposals to supply Singapore's next tranche of LNG.

This will be done in two stages, starting as early as the first quarter of next year.

Importers will first be invited to submit proposals on how LNG can be supplied securely at a competitive price.

The EMA will then shortlist up to three parties for the second stage.

They will have up to six months to negotiate with potential buyers and secure commitments for LNG sales and purchases.

After that, the EMA may award up to two licences, depending on market demand and the quality of the proposals submitted.

The EMA also plans to lift an existing moratorium on piped gas imports by 2018, or when LNG -- piped in by BG Group -- reaches its contracted 3 million tonnes per annum.

Mr Iswaran said: "We started off with LNG and we had a moratorium in order to ensure the LNG market is able to develop and have a certain base-load position in Singapore.

"As we go forward… we should really be able to open up the market to different sources of gas in order to ensure the most competitive sources are able to supply to Singapore, hence the desire to lift the moratorium."

On that note of diversifying sources of gas, Singapore's Pavilion Energy on Wednesday announced that it wants to contribute and invest in Singapore's energy security.

Speaking at the Gas Asia Summit, Pavilion Energy chief executive officer Seah Moon Ming said the company has reached its first long-term supply agreement and has also commenced its own LNG trading activities.

Analysts believe the response from potential players will be quite warm.

Stephanie Wilson, managing editor of Asia LNG at Platts, said: “Singapore is a good market to supply (to) -- there's not much risk as far as I can see. Demand is pretty constant and it's probably going to increase as well.

"If you were to supply to Singapore, you would get opportunities that you wouldn't get in other markets. So for example the ability to reload cargos if you so choose, and the vessel cooling down service that they're offering now, that's an important part of what Singapore is aiming to do here, and in addition to which there is potentially some interest in LNG as a bunkering fuel.”

More sources of supply for LNG imports will increase the competitiveness of Singapore's LNG market. But analysts said although the increased supply of gas will also accelerate the progress of Singapore becoming an LNG hub in Asia, it is still constrained by its small domestic market size and reduced liquidity.

- CNA/gn

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