Qatar Petroleum (QP) aims to build a trading desk to rival oil majors and trading houses and to help smooth out spot gas price spikes, said the chief executive of the world’s largest LNG producer.
Saad al-Kaabi said in an interview that while state-owned QP would still chiefly use long-term price contracts as it expands its production, spot volumes for trading would represent about 5-10% of volumes sold.
Kaabi said boosting global trading volumes via the new desk will help stabilize the gas market, avoiding the price spikes and falls that he said could threaten its long-term future.
Last month, LNG prices soared to an all-time high due to a deficit in Asia and what Kaabi described as some traders and oil majors "punching above their weight" by trading gas they sometimes have not got.
Kaabi said traders should be supporting the market, and not fuelling spikes that could lead to doubts about the long-term viability and stability of LNG. "I am not happy when I see spikes in LNG," he said.
Asian LNG prices LNG-AS rocketed to record highs in January, outpacing gains in much of Europe and the United States where gas is abundant. That created an arbitrage opportunity for sellers.
Several companies and traders rushed to meet Asian demand, but struggled to find volumes for quick delivery.
Kaabi said QP Trading "will be a very focal part of our business", with the desk giving buyers options to fulfill short-term needs that cannot be met via long-term contracts.
The group is working to "get the best traders from around the world" to support its growing trading business, he added.