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LONDON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) held steady this week, supported by demand from Japan where sweltering weather continued, catching some buyers short.
Deals for spot October delivery to Northeast Asia <LNG-AS> were heard at $4.70 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), slightly below last week's $4.80 per mmBtu, sources said.
For September delivery, deals were heard at $4.80 per mmBtu and at about $4.60 per mmBtu, both of them purchases made by Tohuku Electric, according to Asian-based traders.
Traders said demand from Japan and Korea was good due to the hot weather, with the fuel used to generate power for air conditioning. The Japan Meteorological Agency said temperatures in Tokyo averaged 35 degrees Celsius in the past two weeks.
Japan's JERA traded six to eight cargoes including buying one that had been offered by Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) from its Australian Wheatstone plant and a couple more for prompt delivery, traders said.
"They (JERA) were caught short because of the hot weather so they had to buy," one Asian-based trader said.
Woodside was heard selling a cargo for mid-October delivery to North East Asia priced in the high $4s, another trader said.
Unipec bought a cargo at $4.70 per mmBtu from Petronas while BP bought a cargo for mid-October delivery from Vitol for delivery to Korea at $4.30 per mmBtu on the Platts window.
Indian buyers were also seen in the market with Reliance Industries and Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC) both seeking a cargo each for October delivery, according to sources.
India's Essar sought 12 cargoes, one a month, for delivery in 2020, in a tender that was supposed to close on Friday.
On the supply side, Freeport LNG, a new facility in Texas owned by private equity and Japanese buyers, began producing its first LNG this month. That makes it the third new U.S. facility to start up this year after Cheniere's second Corpus Christi train and the Cameron LNG plant in Louisiana.
Despite these recent starts, the unrelenting supply growth from the United States, which upended the global LNG market this year, has slowed in August due to maintenance work at the largest export plant, Cheniere's Sabine Pass.
Australia's Ichthys offered a cargo for loading in mid-September while in the Atlantic basin, Nigeria's NLNG offered a cargo for loading on Sept. 15-16.
(Reporting by Ekaterina Kravstova, Jessica Jaganathan and Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)