This synopsis is from a report that is available to subscribers of Stratas Advisors’ Global LNG service.

Following a precipitous drop that began several years ago, spot LNG prices in Asia and Europe are still mired in a deep slump. Some of the gains made in delivered Asian prices over the past several months were surrendered back this month, as prices for March delivery to the region fell to $7.50/MMBtu, equaling prices at the NBP hub in the UK.

These record low prices have fallen dramatically from the highs of a few years ago, conceding nearly 75% compared to the peaks of 2012-2013. While low prices are obviously hard on suppliers, they have been a boon for consumers, particularly those in developing nations or nations that have been testing the viability of natural gas compared to other energy sources.

In a number of regions, coal has historically been readily accessible and the most affordable option. With emissions concerns being a secondary or tertiary priority in many places, coal has enjoyed the lion’s share of the energy mix. Several developments are challenging that status quo, though: First, floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) have offered a quick, flexible and—most importantly—a much lower cost option than onshore import terminals. But if the fuel itself is not competitive, that point is moot. That’s where the second development of historically low prices comes into play.

In Thailand, PTT has announced plans to rapidly increase its LNG import capacity to meet growing demand and offset diminishing domestic reserves. The company is planning to increase capacity at the only operational import facility at Map Ta Phud from 5.0 million tonnes to 11.5 million tonnes. This is in addition to a second proposed terminal nearby, which would have 7.5 million tonnes of capacity.

South Asia has been the greatest beneficiary of FSRU activity thus far with operational terminals or serious proposals in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Blackouts have plagued those countries, and this pair of developments has promised a quick and relatively easy way to alleviate those issues. Elsewhere, Africa, particularly West Africa, holds extraordinary potential, with budding markets and import proposals abounding.

With the exception of India, all of these nations are new or nascent LNG import markets. And both of the regions—South Asia and West Africa—have been identified by Stratas Advisors as having among the highest growth potential for gas consumption over the next 15 to 20 years. While the low prices of the current market are of course painful for suppliers, particularly the new ones coming online in Australia and elsewhere, the development of these new markets should be encouraging. The oil and gas industry is a cyclical one, with ups and downs to be expected, but rarely do the lows in a cycle produce such a promising future as this current downturn in the LNG market.