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Argentina loads its first commercial LNG cargo from new facility

SINGAPORE/LONDON (Reuters) - Argentine oil company YPF SA has loaded its first commercial liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo for export from a new floating facility, trade sources said on Friday.

Argentina's export joins a wave of new supply flooding the spot market which has depressed Asian spot prices to their lowest in a decade for this time of the year.

The state-owned firm issued a tender which closed on Nov. 6 to sell 2.1 trillion British thermal unit (Tbtu) of LNG for loading from FLNG Tango, the liquefaction vessel off Bahia Blanca, the sources said.

YPF exported its first test LNG shipment in June, but this was its first commercial cargo, they added.

The cargo loaded from the facility on Oct. 26 on the LNG tanker Excalibur and is now moored off Bahia Blanca with destination stated as Atlantic Basin, shiptracking data from Refinitiv showed. Bahia Blanca is a small port city not far from the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

Details of the buyer were not immediately available.

The Excalibur is chartered by YPF, two shipping sources said, meaning that the cargo was sold on a delivered-ex-ship (DES) basis, unlike the test cargo. The test cargo was loaded on the same vessel but at that time it was chartered by U.S. producer Cheniere, they said.

"It takes around 40 days to produce and load a full cargo...their next one will be on the vessel Methane Kari Elin," one of the traders said.

YPF said in June it began loading the first shipment of LNG for export from Argentina, a milestone for the country which is looking to exploit its huge Vaca Muerta shale play.

"The (first commercial cargo) will likely end up in Europe or Americas as they don't have the shipping length," the trader added.

FLNG Tango, owned by Belgian shipping company Exmar , arrived in Bahia Blanca in February.

Argentina is typically an importer of LNG. It buys pipeline gas from neighbouring countries and also produces its own gas.

But rising output from Vaca Muerta, one of the world's largest reserves of shale oil and gas, helped it reduce LNG imports by more than 20% last year to 2.6 million tonnes, according to industry group GIIGNL.

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