Cedigaz: global LNG imports increased 1.7 percent in January-May

Global LNG imports rose by 1.7 percent to 169.3 million tonnes in January-May 2024, up from 168 million tonnes during the same period in 2023, according to preliminary data released by Cedigaz.

Confirming the trend seen this year, the growth was driven by Asian gas demand, with LNG imports increasing by 10.37 million tonnes year-on year, up 15.3 percent, to 115.31 million tonnes, the France-based association said in a report.

Meanwhile, European LNG imports fell by 11.4 million tonnes, down 20 percent year-on-year, to 45.37 million tonnes in the first five months of 2024, it said.

Asia was followed by Central and South America (+1.25 million tonnes, or up around 30 percent to 5.34 million tonnes) and the Middle East (+0.82 million tonnes, or up 45 percent to 2.62 million tonnes), Cedigaz said.

In Europe, reduced gas demand and high inventories were primarily behind the drop in LNG imports, it said.

Cedigaz said the sharpest drop in terms of volume was recorded by the UK, where imports fell by 6.21 million tonnes, down around 59 percent, to 4.21 million tonnes, amid low gas-to-power and residential demand in the UK and increased LNG import capacity in Europe.

China’s LNG imports jump

In Asia, China led the pack with a total of 31.97 million tonnes, representing around 28 percent of imports in Asia, imported in January-May 2024, up from 27.10 million tonnes during the equivalent period in 2023, Cedigaz said.

This was also the highest level reached since the same period in 2021, when China LNG imports hit 32.96 million tonnes, the association noted.

For the whole of 2024, China is projected to hit a new record in LNG imports of around 78-80 million tonnes, with demand driven by the industrial and commercial sectors, according to reports citing a PetroChina official in May, Cedigaz said.

China imported a total of 70.4 million tonnes in 2023, according to Cedigaz database, though the highest annual level was reached in 2021 with 78.79 million tonnes.

China was followed by Japan, which imported 27.81 million tonnes in January-May 2024, and South Korea with 20.41 million tonnes, it said.

India boosts LNG imports

India’s LNG imports posted the second biggest year-on-year increase in terms of absolute changes (+2.52 milion tonnes, up almost 30 percent year-on-year) to 10.99 million tonnes, Cedigaz said.

This marked an increase from 8.47 milion tonnes during the same period last year, making India the fourth-largest importer so far this year after overtaking the UK, which slipped to the 12th position, it said.

India boosted its LNG imports this year and past winter as softer prices fueled buying interest to meet soaring demand – the country remains a price-sensitive market.

India’s LNG imports were already expected to increase this year due to demand fundamentals, Cedigaz said.

With the country currently going through an unusually severe heatwave, this trend is only expected to strengthen, Cedigaz added.

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