Japan’s LNG imports slightly down in November as prices surge

Japan’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports dropped in November for the third straight month after logging a rise in the May-August period.

The country received 5.86 million tonnes of LNG last month, down 2.6 percent when compared to the same month last year, according to the provisional data released by the country’s Ministry of Finance.

Compared to the previous month when Japan took 4.62 million tonnes, LNG imports rose about 27 percent.

On the other side, Japan’s coal imports for power generation rose 27.1 percent to 10.4 million tonnes in November.

Prices jump

Japan paid about $4.34 billion for LNG supplies in November, a rise of 136 percent year-on-year.

State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) said earlier this month the average contract-based price for spot LNG cargoes shipped to Japan in November had reached $35/mmBtu.

Looking at LNG shipments in November, deliveries from Asia from countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia rose by 25 percent to 1.55 million tonnes, the ministry’s data shows.

Middle East LNG shipments from countries like Qatar increased by 28.9 percent to 1.05 million tonnes.

Additionally, shipments from Russia decreased by 10.2 percent to 521,000 tonnes while US deliveries dropped 12.5 percent to 400,000 tonnes.

LNG inventories at high levels

Japan’s LNG inventories, held by the country’s major power utilities, remained at high levels in November and December.

To remind, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in October that LNG stocks hit around 2.3 million tonnes as of October 15, a rise of 0.7 million tonnes from a year earlier.

According to METI’s newest data, LNG stocks stood at 2.37 million tonnes on December 12.

Japan remained the world’s largest LNG importer last year and the country took 74.4 million tonnes of LNG. However, China will probably overtake Japan this year.

China imported 64.50 million tonnes in the January-October period, while Japan received about 61.37 million tonnes. China is yet to release official data for November.

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