Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices saw a slight decline this week, but still held near a six-month top as hot weather in the region encouraged demand for cooling, and as Northeast Asian buyers focus on supplies for the summer.

The average LNG price for July delivery into north-east Asia was at $12.00 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), industry sources estimated. This is slightly down from $12.30/mmBtu in the previous week, which was its highest levels since mid-December.

"(The) heatwave has strengthened downstream gas demand in India but this is also a price-sensitive market. Currently, Indian importers have no choice but to import spot LNG due to surging power demand amidst the hottest heatwaves," said Masanori Odaka, senior analyst at Rystad Energy.

Delivery into India, however, is often at a discount to Europe or the rest of Asia, added Odaka, "so the impact on global prices are limited."

India is experiencing a blisteringly hot summer, with a part of capital Delhi recording the country's highest ever temperature at 52.9 degrees Celsius (127.22°F) this week. At least 15 people have died of suspected heatstroke in the country's eastern states.

Southeast Asian buyers like Thailand's state-energy firm PTT and Philippines power producer First Gen also issued tenders this week seeking supplies for delivery in July.

In northeast Asia, South Korea and Japan are both forecast for hotter than normal weather through most of June and well into July, said Samuel Good, head of LNG pricing at commodity pricing agency Argus.

"Several Japanese power utilities have already purchased cargoes for June-July delivery, so their current interest is pointing more towards August onward delivery," added Rystad's Odaka.

In Europe, S&P Global Commodity Insights assessed its daily North West Europe LNG Marker (NWM) price benchmark for cargoes delivered in July on an ex-ship (DES) basis at $11.023/mmBtu on May 30, a $0.14/mmBtu discount to the July gas price at the Dutch TTF hub.

Argus assessed the July delivery price at $11.00/mmBtu, while Spark Commodities assessed the June delivery price at $11.026/mmBtu.

"In Europe, TTF gas markets have found some support on the back of increased Asian LNG demand," said Hans Van Cleef, chief energy economist at PZ-Energy.

"Although European gas inventories are well filled, and the filling season is still in progress, market participants seem to react nervously when there are signals regarding higher Asian demand, or supply disruptions as we have seen due to the unexpected Norwegian outages."

In the United States, Argus' Good said that production has increased as the Cameron LNG terminal in Louisiana has raised its feedgas intake "to levels that would suggest all three trains are operating close to capacity."

Sabine Pass inflows, however, remain lower than would usually be seen during winter months, he added.

Meanwhile, LNG freight rates continued to increase this week, said Spark Commodities analyst Qasim Afghan. Atlantic rates jumped to $52,500/day on Friday, while Pacific rates rose to $45,250/day.

(Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)