Japan was the world’s largest LNG importer in 2022, followed by China

Japan has officially become the world’s top liquefied natural gas importer in 2022, overtaking China, but both of the countries took fewer volumes when compared to the year before.

China overtook Japan as the world’s top LNG importing country in 2021 due to rising demand from the power generation and industrial sectors.

However, Covid-19 lockdowns and high prices curbed demand for LNG in China and the country received about 63.44 million tonnes of LNG last year, down 19.5 percent when compared to the year before, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

Japan’s LNG imports also dropped last year when compared to 2021.

According to the provisional data released by the country’s Ministry of Finance, Japan’s LNG imports decreased by 3.1 percent year-on-year in 2022 to about 71.99 million tonnes.

Despite the drop, Japan took some 8.55 million tonnes more than China last year.

Prices surged in 2022

According to the preliminary data, Japan’s 2022 LNG import bill of about $65.8 billion increased by 97.5 percent when compared to the year before.

State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) said earlier this month that the average price of spot LNG cargoes for delivery to Japan contracted in December was $30.8 per mmBtu, compared to 22.9 per mmBtu in the prior month.

Asian spot LNG prices dropped in the meantime and the JKM LNG price price for March settled at $23.090 per mmBtu on Wednesday.

Russian volumes rise, US LNG deliveries drop

As per LNG shipments going to Japan in 2022, deliveries from Asia from countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia rose by 9.2 percent to 17.93 million tonnes, the ministry’s data shows.

Middle East LNG shipments from countries such Qatar were down by 44.7 percent to 6.74 million tonnes.

Moreover, shipments from Russia increased by 4.6 percent to 6.86 million tonnes while US deliveries dropped by 41.5 percent to 4.13 million tonnes.

Japan takes a big part of its LNG volumes from Australia.

According to EnergyQuest, Australian LNG exports to Japan rose to more than 31 million mt in 2022 while Chinese volumes dropped to some 22.6 million mt.

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