Japan boosts LNG imports in May

Japan’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports rose in May for the second month in a row, according to the provisional data released by the country’s Ministry of Finance.

The country’s LNG imports rose 5.6 percent year-on-year to 4.87 million tonnes last month, the data shows.

LNG imports dropped compared to 5.28 million tonnes in April, which marked a rise of 16.7 percent year-on-year.

Also, LNG imports in May decreased compared to 5.55 million tonnes in March, 6.02 million tonnes in February, and 6.1 million tonnes in January.

During the fiscal year April 2023-March 2024, Japan’s LNG imports decreased by 8 percent to 64.8 million tonnes, while coal imports for power generation dropped by 13.4 percent to 98.1 million tonnes.

Japan’s coal imports for power generation dropped in May compared to the last year.

Coal imports were down by 1.5 percent to 6.09 million tonnes, and Japan paid about $0.92 billion for these imports, a drop of 28.8 percent compared to the last year, the data shows.

LNG import bill up

The May LNG import bill of about $2.84 billion increased by 9.1 percent compared to the same month last year.

Last week, state-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) published the monthly spot LNG prices for delivery to Japan in May.

The average price of spot LNG cargoes for delivery to Japan contracted in May 2024 and scheduled to be delivered from the month onward (contract-based price) was $9.9/MMBtu, JOGMEC said in its preliminary report.

The average price of spot LNG cargoes that were delivered in Japan within the month of May 2024 regardless of the month when the contracts were made (arrival-based price) was $9.5/MMBtu.

Also, the confirmed figures for April 2024 were not changed from the preliminary figures, with the contract-based price at $9.6/MMBtu and the arrival-based price at $9.6/MMBtu, JOGMEC said.

LNG inventories

METI previously announced that Japan’s LNG inventories for power generation as of May 5 stood at 2.01 million tonnes, up 0.08 million tonnes from the previous week.

Inventories were at 2.12 million tonnes on May 12, 2.26 million tonnes on May 19, 2.06 million tonnes on May 26, 2.23 million tonnes on June 2, 2.10 million tonnes on June 9, and 2.14 million tonnes on June 16, according to METI.

Deliveries to Japan

As per LNG shipments going to Japan in May, deliveries from Asia rose by 27.4 percent to 1.50 million tonnes, the ministry’s data shows.

Middle East LNG shipments surged by 212.6 percent to 464,000 tonnes in May.

Moreover, shipments from Russia decreased by 40.5 percent to 363,000 tonnes, while US deliveries jumped by 171.1 percent to 494,000 tonnes in May.

Second largest LNG importer

China has overtaken Japan to become the world’s top importer of LNG last year.

China’s LNG imports rose 12.6 percent to about 71.32 million tonnes in the January-December period, and the country imported some 5.17 million tonnes of LNG more than Japan in 2023.

During January-May this year, China imported 32.42 million tonnes of LNG, a rise of 18.1 percent year-on-year.

Japan imported some 27.82 million tonnes of LNG during the same period, some 4.6 million tonnes less than China.

In May, China took about 6.57 million tonnes of LNG, some 1.7 million tonnes more than Japan.

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