Japan’s LNG imports climb 16.7 percent in April

Japan’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports rose 16.7 percent year-on-year in April after three straight months of declines, according to the provisional data released by the country’s Ministry of Finance.

The country’s LNG imports rose to 5.28 million tonnes last month, the data shows.

LNG imports dropped compared 5.55 million tonnes in March, 6.02 million tonnes in February, and 6.1 million tonnes in January.

Japan’s coal imports for power generation also rose in April compared to the last year.

Coal imports were up by 5 percent to 7.64 million tonnes, and Japan paid about $1.2 billion for these imports, a drop of 33.4 percent compared to the last year, the data shows.

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.

LNG import bill up

The April LNG import bill of about $2.99 billion increased by 12.5 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 April.

The average price of spot LNG cargoes for delivery to Japan contracted in April 2024 and scheduled to be delivered from the month onward (contract-based price) was $9.6/MMBtu, JOGMEC said in its preliminary report.

The average price of spot LNG cargoes that were delivered in Japan within the month of April 2024 regardless of the month when the contracts were made (arrival-based price) was $9.6/MMBtu.

Also, the confirmed figures for March 2024 were not changed from the preliminary figures, with the contract-based price at $9.3/MMBtu and the arrival-based price not disclosed, JOGMEC said.

JOGMEC did not publish both the contract-based and the arrival-based monthly spot LNG prices in the first two months of this year as there were less than two companies that imported spot LNG.

LNG inventories

METI previously announced that Japan’s LNG inventories for power generation as of April 7 stood at 1.61 million tonnes, up 0.13 million tonnes from the previous week.

Inventories were at 1.62 million tonnes on April 14, 2.05 million tonnes on April 21, 2.13 million tonnes on April 28, 2.01 million tonnes on May 5, 2.12 million tonnes on May 12, and 2.26 million tonnes on May 19, according to METI.

Deliveries to Japan

As per LNG shipments going to Japan in April, deliveries from Asia rose by 11.3 percent to 1.30 million tonnes, the ministry’s data shows.

Middle East LNG shipments surged by 219.2 percent to 640,000 tonnes in April.

Moreover, shipments from Russia decreased by 18.5 percent to 288,000 tonnes, while US deliveries rose by 38.6 percent to 437,000 tonnes in April.

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-April this year, China imported 25.91 million tonnes of LNG, a rise of 22.7 percent year-on-year.

Japan imported some 22.95 million tonnes of LNG during the same period, some 2.9 million tonnes less than China.

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