China Overtakes Europe as World’s Biggest LNG Importer

Chinese LNG imports in July dropped 15.4% year/year to 4.74mn metric tons, customs department data published on August 18 showed. For perspective of the significance China imported 109.5 billion cubic meters of LNG last year, 1.3 billion more than Europe. Asia has accounted for 70% of global LNG trade for the past decade, during which time China’s shares of both global LNG trade and of Asia LNG trade have more than tripled.

The cumulative LNG imports in the first seven months of the year were 35.93mn mt, down 20.3% yr/yr. The pipeline gas imports last month were 3.96mn mt, up 8% yr/yr. China’s cumulative pipeline gas imports during the January-July period were 26.28mn mt, up 10.8% yr/yr.

China last year imported a record 78.93mn metric tons of LNG, up 18.3% year/year, customs department data published in January showed. 

The Shift Global LNG Imports

  • At the start of the century, Japan was far and away the world’s biggest LNG importer, taking in about 75 billion cubic meters a year.
  • Europe as a whole was the next biggest importer, followed by South Korea.
  • China did not even begin importing LNG until 2006. 

Over the next 20 years, Japan’s LNG imports peaked, driven by the closure of many of the country’s nuclear plants following the Great Tohoku Earthquake in 2011. Europe’s import volume looked poised to match Japan’s a decade ago, before falling back and then rising again to exceed Japan’s in 2019. Korea’s imports more than doubled, despite the occasional year of modest decline. 

The shift for China has been spectacular And then there is China. China imported 109.5 billion cubic meters of LNG last year, 1.3 billion more than Europe. Asia has accounted for 70% of global LNG trade for the past decade, during which time China’s shares of both global LNG trade and of Asia LNG trade have more than tripled.

BP has tracked trade in liquefied natural gas since the year 2000.

Every year, energy supermajor BP Plc performs a much-needed service for economists, analysts and long-term planners everywhere with its annual Statistical Review of World Energy. Published since the 1960s, it’s a trove of data on energy production and consumption, power generation, trade flows and other aspects of today’s energy system.

Source: Statistical Review of World Energy Bloomberg

From The TradersCommunity Research Desk