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The rise of trading houses in the LNG world – part one

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LNG Industry,

The LNG market has evolved significantly in terms of both complexity and sophistication over the last 10 years. It has doubled in size and moved from a market dominated by long-term trade with strict destination clauses to one also strongly influenced by spot sales, tenders, and gas benchmark-linked trade, along with an increase in re-trades and destination swaps.

Within this market shift, new types of stakeholders have appeared and begun to flourish largely as intermediaries between resource holders and end users. These intermediaries include portfolio players, dedicated liquefiers, and, more recently, trading houses.

Even though the arrival of trading houses in the LNG space had been long anticipated, the constrained market size and supply tightness of earlier years made it difficult for them to gain an appreciable foothold.

While some trading houses have managed to successfully enter the LNG market even in a constrained environment, their footprint has remained relatively small, accounting for approximately 3-5 % of the traded volume in 2015. The role of those established traders going forward, however, has the potential to increase remarkably as two big megatrends are expected to dominate the LNG world in the mid and long term:

  • The market is expected to become long in the next 6-9 years, catalysing increased liquidity and the availability of volumes
  • The majority of new LNG demand is expected to come from 17 recent and over 15 'likely' emerging markets. Trading houses have a unique value proposition based on 6 key areas covered below that makes them particularly well-placed to serve those markets.

By Loukas Ziomas, Specialist at McKinsey Energy Insights

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