Japan’s monthly LNG imports continue to drop

Japan’s monthly liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports continued to decline in August, according to the provisional data released by the country’s Ministry of Finance.

The country’s LNG imports dropped by 9.6 percent year-on-year in August to about 5.67 million tonnes, the data shows.

LNG imports rose compared to 5.09 million tonnes in the previous month, which also marked a drop compared to the previous year.

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

Coal imports were down by 31.5 percent to 8.38 million tonnes, and Japan paid about $1.75 billion for these imports, a drop of 63.4 percent compared to the last year, the data shows.

LNG import bill down

According to the preliminary data, the August LNG import bill of about $3.38 billion decreased by 43 percent compared to the same month last year.

State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) recently published the first contract-based monthly spot LNG price since December 2022.

The average price of spot LNG cargoes for delivery to Japan contracted in August 2023 and scheduled to be delivered from the month onward was $11.6/MMBtu, JOGMEC said.

JOGMEC also said in a report this week that the “Northeast Asian assessed spot LNG price JKM for the previous week (September 11 -15) rose from the low US$ 13s the previous week to the high US$ 13s on September 11 amid rising supply uncertainty due to labor disputes at Australian LNG facilities.”

“The price subsequently fell to the mid US$ 12s on September 15 as selling interest increased on the back of robust inventories and supply,” it said.

METI announced on September 13 that Japan’s LNG inventories for power generation totaled 1.68 million tonnes as of September 10, up 0.02 million tonnes from the previous week.

LNG deliveries

As per LNG shipments going to Japan in August, deliveries from Asia decreased by just 0.1 percent to 1.24 million tonnes, the ministry’s data shows.

Middle East LNG shipments dropped by 22.2 percent to 700,000 tonnes in August.

Moreover, shipments from Russia dropped by 12.8 percent to 392,000 tonnes, while US deliveries rose by 94.6 percent to 648,000 tonnes in August.

Japan was the world’s top LNG importer in 2022, overtaking China, but both of the countries took fewer volumes compared to the year before.

However, China has overtaken Japan to become the world’s top importer of LNG in the first half of this year.

China took 33.44 million tonnes of LNG during January-June, up by 7.2 percent compared to the same period last year, while Japan’s LNG imports dropped by 13.3 percent year-on-year in January-June to 32.62 million tonnes.

During the January-August period, Japan imported some 43.38 million tonnes, down by about 2.18 million tonnes compared to China’s 45.51 million tonnes.

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