* Spark Commodities to launch LNG trading platform by Q4, 2019
* Team of about 10 has been hired, including ex Koch trader
* Several platforms vie to capture booming LNG market
By Jessica Jaganathan
SINGAPORE, April 9 (Reuters) - French data firm Kpler and energy exchange Powernext plan to launch a trading platform for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Singapore this year, company executives told Reuters, joining a run of firms capitalising on growing spot volumes.
The move comes amid a surge in supply of the super-chilled fuel, along with healthy demand, which has triggered a boost in trading as many countries and companies switch from burning coal to cleaner natural gas.
The two companies set up Spark Commodities in Singapore in March and have hired Tim Mendelssohn, previously with Koch Supply and Trading and oil major BP, as its managing director.
Spark, which is majority-owned by Kpler, aims to launch a trading platform for physical LNG buyers and sellers by the fourth quarter of this year, Mendelssohn told Reuters in an interview this week.
Spark will not be alone. Rising spot trading volumes have attracted several companies to launch LNG pricing and trading platforms, including GLX and dominant oil price agency S&P Global Platts.
GLX is based in Australia, but Spark will join Platts in Singapore - already Asia's main oil trading hub - which is vying to establish itself as the main exchange point for the booming LNG market.
Unlike oil, which has several liquid financial and physical trading platforms and exchanges, LNG markets are still evolving, and Kpler chief executive and co-founder Francois Cazor said clients had been asking how to trade LNG faster and more efficiently.
"To do this, we wanted to create a separate entity to Kpler; one which allowed us to focus on providing greater transparency to commodity flows whilst giving the new entity, Spark, the necessary freedom to focus on price and improving the transaction process," said Cazor.
Kpler is a French data intelligence firm mostly known for its ship tracking and cargo information services, which traders and analysts use to monitor global supply and demand changes for products like oil or LNG.
Powernext is part of the European Energy Exchange (EEX), Europe's biggest wholesale electricity bourse, which also offers natural gas products.
EEX, which launched EEX Asia in Singapore last year, is a subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Boerse AG exchange group.
(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Henning Gloystein and Richard Pullin)