May 21, 2024
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OIL & GAS

Asia’s LNG Imports Surge Amidst Lower Spot Prices

Asia’s imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) witnessed a significant rise in March, fueled by attractive spot prices compared to Europe. The region capitalized on lower prices to bolster LNG arrivals, with China and India leading the surge in demand.

According to Reuters columnist Clyde Russell, Asia received a total of 24.16 million metric tons of LNG in March, marking a notable increase from February’s 22.73 million tons and a substantial rise of 11.5% compared to March 2023.

Spot prices for LNG in North Asia remained subdued in February and early March, with prices hitting a near three-year low of $8.30 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) in late February, down from a peak of $17.90 per mmBtu in October.

China, the world’s largest LNG importer, escalated imports to 6.61 million tons in March, while India’s LNG imports surged to a 40-month high of 2.29 million tons. Bangladesh also recorded increased arrivals, reaching 470,000 tons in March.

Japan and South Korea, reliant on long-term contracts, saw steadier LNG imports in March, with Japan’s imports slightly down from February but higher year-on-year, and South Korea’s imports up from February but lower compared to March last year.

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In contrast to Asia’s robust demand, Europe witnessed softer LNG arrivals in March due to a mild winter and elevated natural gas inventories. This resulted in a shift of cargoes from Europe to Asia.

The United States, a major LNG exporter, saw reduced shipments to Europe in March but increased exports to Asia, highlighting the shifting trade dynamics.

The market anticipates whether Asian LNG demand will continue to support higher spot prices, or if the usual seasonal lull between winter and summer peaks will lead to lower demand and prices. While April’s import estimates remain in line with the previous year, a definitive trend is yet to emerge.

 

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