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    LNG Import Growth Breaks 2010 Record: GIIGNL (Correction)


Global LNG imports increased by 9.9% last year 2017, according to data in the newly-released annual report of the International Group of LNG Importers.

by: Mark Smedley

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LNG Import Growth Breaks 2010 Record: GIIGNL (Correction)

Correction: an earlier version of this article wrongly stated that China's LNG imports increased by 13.5% year on year. The correct figure from the original GIIGNL report,  now included in the 5th para below, is up 42.3%.


Global LNG imports increased by 9.9% to 289.8mn metric tons in 2017, according to the annual report of the International Group of LNG Importers (GIIGNL) released April 19. Of that, 77.6mn mt traded on a spot or short-term basis, or 27% of total trade (down slightly from 28% in 2016).

The 26.2mn mt increase was the highest recorded since 2010, contrasting with an average annual growth rate of 0.5% in 2012-15 and exceeding the rise of 7.5% in 2016. 

Main additions to supply came from Australia and the US, as trains that came online in 2016 ramped up, and five new liquefaction trains were added: Gorgon train 3 and Wheatstone T1 in Australia; Sabine Pass T3 and T4 in the US; and Russia’s Yamal T1 which just scraped into 2017. The environment for new projects seeking investment remained “challenging”, said GIIGNL, with only one export project – Coral FLNG – taking final investment decision in 2017.

Most demand growth occurred in Asia where LNG imports grew by 19.6mn mt last year. China (up 11.6mn mt) and South Korea (up 3.6mn mt) accounted for the largest year on year increases in net imports, while Egypt and the UK had the largest declines (down 1.3 and 2.6mn mt respectively).

Japan's net LNG imports edged 0.2% higher last year to 83.52mn mt, remaining the largest market; but China moved into second place, up 42.3%, to 39.01mn mt, ahead of South Korea at 37.83mn mt. Also in China, 10.2mn mt – 26% of imports there – were loaded on to trucks at receiving terminals, noted GIIGNL.

Asia’s market share edged higher to 72.9% (from 72.7% in 2016), followed by Europe’s 15.9% (from 14.6%), whereas the Americas' share of 5.8% and that of the Middle East on 5.5% were lower (from 6.1% and 6.6% respectively in 2016). Whereas import volume into the Americas grew, it declined by 9.1% into the Middle East. Indeed top Middle East importer Egypt's 2017 imports fell by almost 18% to 6.18mn mt.

One country imported LNG for the first time (Malta), taking the total number of importing countries to 40.

Liquefaction capacity grows in leaps and bounds

World liquefaction capacity increased to 365mn mt/yr at end-2017, up 25.4mn mt, while this year a further 38mn mt/yr of new capacity is expected to come online – of which one-third in the US.

Qatar supplied 77.5mn mt, or 26.7% of global LNG imports in 2017; the Pacific Basin supplied 45.3%. The number of LNG export countries remained 19, the same as in 2016.

Regasification (import) capacity grew to 850mn mt/yr in 2017, up 20mn mt/yr, meaning a fair amount of redundancy; and included five new terminals and two expansions. GIIGNL said at end-2017 that nine offshore and 15 onshore terminals were reportedly being built, including five in China. The report can be accessed here